NRL takes action against referee at centre of Wests Tigers debacle

Wests Tigers captain James Tamou, pictured here in action against the Cowboys.
Ashley Klein has been stood down after his decision to penalise the Wests Tigers. Image: Getty

NRL referee Ashley Klein has been stood down for Round 20 after his decision to award the Cowboys a controversial penalty in the dying stages of their win over the Wests Tigers.

Klein was in the bunker during the controversial finish and was responsible for awarding the Cowboys the penalty that allowed them to kick the match-winning goal after the siren for a 27-26 victory.

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Klein ruled that Asu Kepaoa had illegally escorted Kyle Feldt off the ball, which NRL referees boss Graham Annesley later admitted was wrong.

The fallout continued on Tuesday with Klein - the game's No.1 referee who was in charge for all three State of Origin games - axed from both on-field and video roles for Round 20.

“He’s been our No.1 referee over recent months. He refereed all three Origins, he’s been operating in the bunker now for many years, he performs to a very high standard. We just don’t agree with the decision he made,” Annesley said on Monday.

“There is no more accountable job than officiating in the NRL. We have a history of putting our hands up when things go wrong.

"Where we feel there is a justification for officials to be accountable for their decisions through demotion, then those sorts of decisions will be taken.

“He’ll be told we don’t agree with the decision and he’ll be taken through why we don’t agree with that decision. Obviously the appointments are the most obvious way that officials are either appointed or demoted.

“The most important thing is he’ll be taken through from a learning perspective to try and make sure what happened, that all the officials, and they do discuss these things as a group with (referees boss) Jared Maxwell, they look at these incidents when they’re right and when they’re wrong so we can get some commonality among them.

“People are always calling for consistency. They look at these things, they break them down and they all try to agree on outcomes so they can then all implement that consistently.”

Ashley Klein, pictured here in action during State of Origin II.
Ashley Klein in action during State of Origin II. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NRL unlikely to reverse Tigers-Cowboys result

Peter V'landys has left the door open for the NRL to overturn the controversial result, but says the prospect is extremely unlikely.

The ARL Commission is still awaiting a full report on the match, including the interpretation and application of key rules in the final seconds of the game.

The Tigers are waiting on the report before deciding their next step, having already asked the NRL for a proper explanation and transcripts of conversations between the referee and bunker.

There remains some possibility the joint venture will appeal the result, if they believe due process had not been followed and they should have been awarded a 26-25 win.

Several other clubs are watching with interest as just four points separate the Cowboys in second spot and Parramatta in seventh.

While V'landys said there was the possibility of the points being handed to the Tigers, he did not believe that should be the case.

Dejected Wests Tigers players, pictured here after their loss to the Cowboys.
Dejected Tigers players look on after their loss to the Cowboys. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

"What stays on the ground stays on the ground. People respect that," V'landys said on Tuesday.

"I would be very doubtful it will be overturned. But, all options are open.

"That's one thing about this commission, we are very flexible. And we will always listen and give people due process and natural justice.

"It's not my decision, it will be a commission decision and I will be very surprised if it is overturned because in my opinion what happens on the ground stays on the ground."

The Tigers' main concerns centre not so much around the escort call from the bunker, but the process leading up to it.

The club continues to question if the review should have been allowed to take place given no escort was called on the field, and the match at that point should have been declared over.

If they are to pursue a legal challenge for the points, it is likely to begin with a request for a meeting between Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis and V'landys.

"I have spoken to the chairman of the Tigers, I understand his position," V'landys said.

"He is showing leadership for his fans and members and I respect that."

"We will sit down, I have asked for a report on the game and the interpretation of the rule."

with AAP

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