Rivals fuming about Storm link to top ref

1 month ago 6
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Rival NRL clubs are privately unhappy about the recently-formed links between premiers Melbourne and the game's No.1 ranked referee Gerard Sutton.

The Storm employed Sutton's elder brother and former boss, ex-referees supremo Bernard Sutton, as a consultant in January.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that Gerard has a bias towards the Storm because of their association with his brother - the referee is straight as an arrow.

But there are rumblings about what impact this scenario could have, with Bernard having coached Gerard and having an intimate knowledge of all his habits and pet peeves on the field that could theoretically result in penalties.

The NRL themselves are concerned about optics of the link between the brothers. A couple of months ago during the State of Origin series, chief executive Andrew Abdo personally telephoned Bernard Sutton telling him to stand down from helping Queensland after game one, which was refereed by Gerard.

"Bernard trained his little brother and was his boss - he knows how he ticks as a referee and what he is likely to penalise and what he will let go," a rival coach told me.

"What if Gerard referees the grand final and the Storm win - as they did last year - and his brother is now on the coaching staff. We are not saying there is any bias but it is not a good look."

Referee Gerard Sutton during a Raiders vs Storm match this NRL season. (Getty)

RARE ROOSTERS WIN WITH REFS AFTER STORY

Still on referees, there was one certainty going into last weekend's round of matches - that the Roosters would achieve a rare win in the penalty count department.

The club planted a story in the News Corp media last week how they had only won 29 per cent of penalty counts under coach Trent Robinson.

Roosters supremo Nick Politis - one of the most powerful men in the game - even spoke to NRL bosses Peter V'landys and Andrew Abdo about the issue.

Sure enough, the Roosters had a rare win in the penalties two days later, 7-6, but it proved crucial as they limped to a one-point win over the luckless Broncos.

It was the sort of trick powerful CEOs like Canterbury's Peter Moore and Parramatta's Denis Fitzgerald used before big games in the tabloid press back in the 1980s - and it is still effective.

How small clubs like the Tigers, Warriors and Titans wish they had an influential figure like Politis in their corner!

Sydney Roosters boss Nick Politis. (Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media)

JOHNSON'S SOUR $60K SNUB FROM SHARKS

Kiwi superstar Shaun Johnson enjoyed three fairly successful seasons at the Sharks - but his parting from the club this week was anything but amicable.

Johnson is returning home to New Zealand early after injury finished his 2021 campaign, flying out tomorrow.

But Johnson was hoping the Sharks would pay him the final month of his contract - around $60,000 - before he left.

He got a rude shock when the club refused to cough up the money, and I'm hearing he is going home far from a happy boy as a result.

Shaun Johnson. (Getty)

TIGERS F---ING UNHAPPY ABOUT DOCO

Tigers officials have been left mortified by the television documentary on the behind-the-scenes goings on at the club, Wild Wests: Tales From Tiger Town.

In last week's episode, coach Michael Maguire dropped the F-bomb a staggering 113 times.

Officials were concerned that the barrage of four-letter words would turn mothers and families off the club - especially in the week of Women in League round.

This isn't a criticism of Maguire, by the way - he is a choirboy compared to former legendary coaches like Tom Raudonikis and Arthur Beetson.

But the club should have insisted that the "naughty words" were beeped out before the show went to air.

"It's not the image we want associated with our club," one board member told me.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire. (Getty)

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