The NRL has gone for a first-time referee in Sunday’s grand final, with Adam Gee put in charge, while the two touch judges who missed a blatant Reece Walsh forward pass in Brisbane’s preliminary final win over the Warriors have been dropped from the showpiece event.
Phil Henderson and Drew Oultram were on the sideline for last year’s decider between the Panthers and Eels but have been overlooked for their role in a missed call that has led to calls for the Bunker to rule on forward passes.
Instead, Chris Sutton and David Munro will be the touch judges as the Panthers look to make it three premierships in a row, with Gee the man in the middle and Ashley Klein the Bunker official after he refereed last year’s grand final.
It’s a huge promotion for Gee, who stayed out of the headlines for his performance last Friday night a week after Klein was dropped for two clangers in the Storm’s thrilling win over the Roosters.
“Adam thoroughly deserves his appointment to the grand final,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said, with veteran referee Gerard Sutton missing out on the gig.
“He has been a standout match official this season and been incredibly consistent in 2023.
“Adam has refereed 236 matches, and his calm demeanour and strong work ethic are testament to that experience.
“We’re in the fortunate position to have a number of referees who have the ability to officiate the grand final, but it’s a competitive process and Adam is the best referee for the job based on performances this year and throughout the finals series.”
Belinda Sharpe will referee the NRLW grand final after she made her NRL debut in the final round of the regular season, while Wyatt Raymond is in charge of the NRL State Championship to kick-off Sunday’s triple-header.
“All of our match officials should be congratulated for their strong performances over the course of the season,” NRL general manager elite officiating Jared Maxwell said.
“The match officials work very diligently through a season and this privilege is reward for all the hard work and dedication.”