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Australia: NRL News: Klein gets GF gig, Rabbits won't take trainer feud further, Lane lashes league for salary cap delay

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Ashley Klein has edged out Grant Atkins to take the whistle in the NRL grand final between Penrith and Parramatta, his first decider as the sole referee.

Kasey Badger has been appointed to referee the NRLW grand final between Newcastle and Parramatta which precedes the NRL showdown on Sunday at Accor Stadium.

The 43-year-old Klein refereed all three State of Origin matches this year. He previously adjudicated the 2018 grand final with Gerard Sutton.

“I am really looking forward to Sunday. I actually live in western Sydney and you can feel it in the street already that everybody is really excited,” Klein said.

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Grant Atkins, who refereed last week’s North Queensland v Parramatta preliminary final, will be the Bunker official for the NRL grand final while the touch judges are Phil Henderson and Drew Oultram. The match kicks off at 7.30pm.

Badger was the first female to be lead referee of an NRLW decider in 2019 and said it was an “absolute honour” to be in charge again.

“It is a reward for what you have done during the season. Everyone has ups and down so it is nice to be here at the end of the year and experience all the different things that come with grand final week,” she said.

“I am a massive fan of the women’s game… and really invested in watching that competition grow. To be able to partake in the day is just incredible.”

Adam Gee is the Bunker official for the NRLW grand final with Jordan Morel and Torie Wilkie the touch judges. The match starts at 3.55pm.

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The first match on grand final day, kicking off at 1.20pm, will be the State Challenge showdown between Penrith and Norths Devils.

The match officials for the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final are:

Referee: Ashley Klein

Review Official: Grant Atkins

Touch Judges: Phil Henderson and Drew Oultram

Standby Referee: Gerard Sutton

Standby Touch Judge: David Munro

The match officials for the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership Grand Final are:

Referee: Kasey Badger

Review Official: Adam Gee

Touch Judges: Jordan Morel and Tori Wilkie

Standby Referee: Belinda Sharpe

Standby Touch Judge: Karra-Lee Nolan

The match officials for the NRL State Championship Grand Final are:

Referee: Darian Furner

Review Official: Chris Butler

Touch Judges: Cameron Paddy and Dan Munroe

Standby Official: Wyatt Raymond

The NRL has also announced that all tickets for Sunday’s showpiece event at Accor Stadium have been sold.

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Trainer feud over

Penrith’s trainer Pete Green is unlikely to face sanctions after audio emerged to support his claim that he did not sledge Jed Cartwright’s history of back injuries despite the Rabbitohs forward’s father, Panthers legend John Cartwright, calling it a low act.

Green, who was banned last finals series for breaching NRL rules when he stopped play at a crucial moment in a narrow semi-final win over Parramatta, reportedly taunted Cartwright during the Preliminary Final victory at Accor Stadium on Saturday night.

Cartwright, who has played 16 NRL games over four seasons, began his NRL career at Penrith before switching to Souths two years ago.

Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker reacted by firing back at the trainer after the match with teammates needing to hold him so the confrontation didn’t become physical.

However, audio has emerged of the incident in which Green says ” You’ve got to give him that one, Dyl” after Cartwright’s tackle on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards.

Cartwright snr, who was a member of Penrith’s 1991 maiden premiership team, had called for stiff sanctions if the allegations were proven in an interview with the The Daily Telegraph.

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The NRL rubbed Green out of the rest of the finals last year and fined Penrith $25,000 when he called for the referee to stop play even before he had assessed Mitch Kenny’s injury.

“If it’s true that a trainer was sledging an opposition player then he should be banned for life. It’s the lowest act in the game – the lowest of the low. That’s not on. You shouldn’t have to cop any sledge off a f…ing trainer,” said Cartwright.

“I thought Jed had a great game – he didn’t deserve that. If player sledges and gets under the skin of an opponent and they give away a penalty then that is all fair. But not a trainer bringing water out.”

Jed Cartwright. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Lane lashes NRL for stalled salary cap talks

Eels forward Shaun Lane is on the verge of sealing a $2 million extension for three more years but he has lashed out at the NRL over the ongoing stalemate in sorting out the salary cap for next year.

Dozens of fringe first-graders are in limbo because the NRL and RLPA have failed to sign off on a collective bargaining agreement despite negotiations starting several months ago.

Lane, who could be called up for his international debut with the Kangaroos at the World Cup on the back of his career-best season, told The Sydney Morning Herald that it was a sad state of affairs that the NRL could not give clarity on the salary cap figure for each club even though there is just over a month until the start of the November 1 annual pay cycle.’

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“If we were dealing with a small business it would be understandable, but the NRL is a huge enterprise, and no other professional sporting organisation in the world would allow this to occur,” Lane, an RLPA delegate, told the SMH.

He said fringe squad members were “being screwed over because of it”.

“I’m not sure what is holding the NRL up. Some people have families to feed and might not have things outside of football to do. They rely only on football.

“They should have been on top of this months ago. It’s disappointing because the RLPA have been ready to go to start negotiations for a long time now, only for it to keep getting put off.”

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Wonky Waqa ready for bombing raid

Waqa Blake has conceded he will be Penrith’s No.1 target in Sunday’s NRL grand final but insists there are no mental scars from Nathan Cleary’s aerial assault a fortnight ago.

Blake will have arguably the hardest job of all Parramatta players in Sunday’s decider when likely peppered by Cleary’s famous floating bombs, after dropping three of them in the opening week of the finals.

Even Cleary admitted he felt sorry for his former Panthers teammate that day, with two of the errors leading to tries as Penrith ran away with the match.

Blake didn’t even have to be prompted by reporters about Cleary’s kicking game when interviewed at Parramatta’s fan day on Monday, knowing full well the questions were coming.

Likewise, he knows exactly what to expect come Sunday, saying it would be commonsense for Cleary to target him.

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“Oh yeah, 100 per cent,” Blake said. “After last game, it’s coming. So the challenge again is on me. But I’m keen. I’m keen to go out there and rip in for the boys.

“We’ve be practising. The onus is just on me, I just got to catch it. It’s coming. I’ve got to do my best, get underneath it, and then other than that just move on from it.”

Blake’s admission came after Cleary sounded a warning over the weekend by saying his kicking game could still improve.

The Penrith No.7 also terrorised South Sydney and their winger Taane Milne in Saturday night’s preliminary-final win, as the Rabbitohs also failed to put sufficient kick pressure on him.

“You go through stages,” Cleary said. “I’ve been striking them alright, but I still reckon I can be a bit more consistent with them. And especially with my long kicking.”

But Blake insists he is not intimidated. He knows Cleary’s kicking game better than most, having watched for years as he sent bombs high into the air at Panthers training.

He made a point to watch several replays of Cleary’s bombs in the days after the qualifying-final loss, but has since moved on.

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