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Under-siege referee Matt Cecchin is likely to complete an unceremonious fall from State of Origin and the top grade in the space of three weeks, with referees bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper set to give him a spell from the NRL this weekend.
Harrigan said Cecchin was "disappointed in himself" after owning up to two awful decisions made during yesterday's match between the Sydney Roosters and Brisbane, won 40-22 by the Broncos in heavy rain at Allianz Stadium.
The whistleblower is likely to be dropped for the coming NRL round as a result although that decision will not be confirmed until the refereeing appointments are made at a meeting tomorrow.
Cecchin was the refereeing fall guy after Origin I in Melbourne last month, dropped for his part in a series of controversial calls including the sin-binning of Blues centre Michael Jennings and a crucial penalty awarded against NSW lock Greg Bird that led to a Queensland try.
"It will certainly be discussed," Harrigan said, when asked whether Cecchin would be relegated to NSW Cup after the latest officiating debacle. "We'll meet again tomorrow morning to discuss that.
"He is disappointed in himself that he got the decisions wrong. When you get them wrong like that you're obviously disappointed. You go out there to do your best, you don't go out there to make mistakes. We've all made mistakes but you've got to put your hand up for them."
The other option Harrigan will consider is to give Cecchin a rest from all grades this weekend.
Cecchin, pocket referee Adam Devcich and video official Bernard Sutton were criticised yesterday over several incidents but there were two very prominent cock-ups. The most bizarre was the decision to allow rookie Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta to get up from what seemed a completed tackle on halfway - he had wrestled the ball on the ground from Roosters centre Joseph Leilua - and race downfield unchallenged. Stand-in Brisbane captain Alex Glenn scored seconds later.
"He got that one wrong," Harrigan said. "It should have been a Broncos ball and (Maranta) gets up and plays the ball. When it's contentious over who has the ball, the referee normally identifies which team has it and he gets up and plays the ball. It didn't happen in that case and it should have."
Cecchin was also castigated for hastily awarding a try to Roosters forward Tinarau Arona when replays showed he had clearly lost the ball over the line.
"He has put his hand up for that one again," Harrigan said. "As a referee I can understand he was backing himself, he saw the ball on the ground underneath him. I've done it, we've all probably done it at some point. But he got it wrong."
Harrigan said he was confident, however, that Cecchin would bounce back. He officiated in the Four Nations final and the NRL grand final last year before making his Origin debut last month.
"Just because you make a mistake doesn't take away from your quality as a referee," Harrigan said.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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