'Are you kidding?': Ref from NRL debacle spared the axe

League fans have blown up on social media after the head referee from last weekend’s embarrassing blunder involving the Raiders was speared the axe.

NRL referee Gerard Sutton will remain in the whistle-blowing ranks this weekend despite being involved in the controversial match between Cronulla and Canberra.

Sutton was tipped to be dropped but was on Tuesday named to officiate the fixture between Gold Coast and the Warriors on Sunday.

Assistant referee Gavin Reynolds and touch judge Ricky MacFarlane have been demoted, while video officials Luke Patten and Henry Perenara have retained their posts in the bunker.

Patten is the review official for three matches, while Perenara is senior review official for one.

The news didn’t go down with disgruntled NRL supporters on Tuesday, with many questioning how Sutton survived the axe.

The appointments come after NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg refuted Ricky Stuart’s claims there are too many voices in the referees’ ears.

He also declared the league’s bunker won’t be going anywhere, however he expected officials who oversaw the Sharks-Raiders match would pay for their errors.

Referees coach Bernard Sutton – Gerard’s brother – has insisted Friday night’s matter was not a fault of the bunker, as they were not told to look for that factor.

Fans have blown up after Gerard Sutton survived the axe from the Raiders debacle. Pic: Getty

And Greenberg, who brought the bunker in during his time as the game’s head of football, said the technology had to stay.

“It’s certainly not time to blow up the bunker,” Greenberg told the Nine Network.

“Technology is here. Technology is now in every sport. The challenge we have is the human element running the technology.

Greenberg also defended the voices of match-day referees coaches in the ears of officials during games, another facet of the game attacked by Stuart after the match on Friday.

“The reality is the head referee owns that space,” he said.

“They use the coaching staff as they want to use them”:

Sutton was the head referee in Friday’s match, and put his whistle to his mouth but did not blow it after MacFarlane raised his flag in the lead up to Sione Katoa try.

Bernard Sutton told AAP on Saturday his brother had not seen MacFarlane’s flag raised in the lead up to the try, and only lifted his whistle after his touch judge yelled “knock on” before he changed his call to “play on”.

Pocket referee Gavin Reynolds was also the official who overruled his sideline officials to call a Canberra pass forward in the lead up to what would have been a try, which the referees boss has since admitted was the wrong call..

Greenberg said officials for this weekend had to be picked for this weekend with those poor performances in mind.

“Frustrated sometimes, really frustrated,” Greenberg said of his emotions..

“We’ve got to be getting those decisions right. They impact games, they impact livelihoods and we’ve got to get better.”

With AAP