Klein handed whistle again for State of Origin opener

·1-min read

Ashley Klein will officiate a fourth straight State of Origin match, despite concerns being raised over his handling of one of the major flashpoints in last year's decider.

NSW coach Brad Fittler was stinging in his criticism of Klein after he failed to sin-bin Queensland prop Tino Fa'asuamaleaui for his role in a melee in Origin III last year.

Fa'asuamaleaui held Matt Burton in a headlock while fellow Maroons player Dane Gagai punched the Blues centre, with Queensland going on to secure a 2-1 series victory. 

Gagai and Burton were both sin-binned, but Fittler branded Klein's failure to sanction Fa'asuamaleaui as "ridiculous".

But the experienced referee has been handed the whistle for the series opener in Adelaide on May 31.

Grant Atkins will head up the bunker, while Gerard Sutton is the standby referee.

As well as officiating the past three Origin games, Klein also took charge of the NRL grand final and the Rugby League World Cup final.

"Ashley has officiated well so far in the 2023 premiership and has significant experience in big matches," said NRL referees boss Jared Maxwell.

"Ashley refereed all three State of Origin matches in 2022, and this match will be his 12th Origin.

"This will be the same on-field and bunker team which officiated in the grand final last year, so they have all proven themselves at this level."