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Maguire leading the way for NRL referees

Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire was hired as high-performance coach of a restructured NRL refereeing group this season.

Maguire leading the way for NRL referees

Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire was hired as high-performance coach of a restructured NRL refereeing group this season.

Rabbitohs coach MICHAEL MAGUIRE watches on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at Redfern Oval in Sydney, Australia.
Rabbitohs coach MICHAEL MAGUIRE watches on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at Redfern Oval in Sydney, Australia. Picture:Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Michael Maguire has been credited for uniting the NRL's referees after addressing concerns of unrest among the game's whistleblowers last year.

Maguire was hired as the high-performance coach of the referees last December as part of an overhaul of the structure, which included Bernard Sutton becoming the boss of the men in the middle.


And the former South Sydney mentor immediately went to work to strengthen the officiating ranks by introducing renowned sporting consultants Leading Teams over the summer.

Their clients include AFL giants Sydney Swans and Hawthorn, the Australian Diamonds in netball and the Newcastle Knights in the NRL.

Sutton recalled how one of their first meetings included a brutal honesty session.

"We sat down and put the staff on one side of the room and the squad on the other side of the room, and called out how we saw each other," Sutton told AAP.

"One of the next things we did was I sat in front of the group and they told me exactly how they saw me and what they needed me to be better in.

"It's brought a new level of honesty around the group. We've been through the process, had some very honest conversations and there's a good mood at the place around the moment."

Maguire and Sutton also brought back a leadership group for the first time in 10 years, which consists of veteran officials Matt Cecchin, Gerard Sutton, Gavin Badger and Henry Perenara.

Sutton praised Maguire's immediate impact on the refereeing group, who have lost an average of five kilograms and gained nine per cent in strength across a heavy pre-season.

"Madge looked at where we were at and our training loads were increased, which are reflected in weight losses and strength gains," Sutton said.

"For Madge to bring outside information from other high-performance areas in has just helped us turn the guys more into the high-performance athletes that we need them to be."

Sutton also vowed this season's crackdown on genuine play-the-balls would last the entire season following an off-season directive from the competition committee.

He admitted there may be an initial struggle to deal with the slower ruck.

"You expect the referees to hold the 10 metres better because the play-the-ball will be slightly slower than what it's been in the past due to the players making a genuine attempt," he said.

"It's not a blitz because a blitz lasts for 2-3 weeks and then drops away. We're just looking to apply this in a consistent manner. That's up to myself and Madge to stay on it."

Maguire and Sutton, together with Russell Smith and Steve Carroll, also form a four-man selection panel for referees, ensuring there is no bias in selection.

AAP


AAP




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