Cameron Smith is to break ground next season as the National Rugby League’s first official ‘Player/Referee’.
The NRL is excited to be the first sporting competition in the world to break this barrier, the first player to be drawing a double paycheck in the game since Wally Lewis was captain and coach of the Gold Coast Chargers in the early 1990s.
“Cameron has been providing informal advice to referees for many years now. As he transitions to post-playing career this seems like an appropriate next step”.
“For too long there’s been a needless gap between our refereeing community and the playing group. We are excited that the NRL will be the first competition in the world to bridge this.”
This move has been met with scrambling across the league. The big clubs are scrambling to get their own players officially recognised as referees. It is expected that Jonathon Thurston, Boyd Cordner and Daly Cherry-Evans will follow Smith into the referees ranks within a season.
But smaller clubs have expressed concerns. A spokesperson for the Raiders said “if we have our own ref what is Sticky meant to blame for our underwhelming play?” The Warriors to are concerned it might highlight their inability to organise a chook raffle let alone influence a game.