Long-standing rugby league referees Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper have been sacked in an NRL refereeing restructure.
The restructuring is set to affect the leadership group within the refereeing department.Australian Rugby League Commission Interim Chief Executive, Shane Mattiske, praised Raper and Harrigan's contribution to the game.
"Bill has made an incredible contribution to refereeing in a career that will forever stand out in the game’s record books," Mattiske said.
"He and Stuart have worked incredibly hard over the last two years in particular and there is a strong sense of gratitude on our part for their efforts, but we also believe that a new structure is needed."
General Manager, Nathan McGuirk, said the NRL were looking to take things in a different direction. McGuirk alluded to the numerous disputed calls made by referees this year (particularly video referees) as another reason for the decision.
"Nobody could criticise their commitment but as we have reviewed the year from a number of perspectives it has become clear that we need one person to manage what is a high performance team," he said.English referee Russell Smith has been appointed to hold the single role that Harrigan and Raper shared, in an interim capacity. Smith will also assist McGuirk in establishing a revised refereeing squad for next year.