THE appointment of Gerard Sutton to referee next Wednesday’s third State Of Origin in Brisbane is a major boost for country referees.
Sutton hails from Coonabarabran and, before moving to Sydney, officiated in three Group 4 grand finals.
He is just one of three sons – Gerard, Bernard and Chris – of stalwart Group 4 referee Harold Sutton, to referee three Group 4 first grade grand finals as well in the NRL.
Harold, who has refereed a number of Group 4 first grade grand finals himself, will control the West Lions v Gunnedah second grade game at Scully Park on Saturday.
Group 4 president Barry Pratten, himself a former referee, said this week’s State Of Origin appointment for Gerard was a delight.
“It was a great day for the Suttons, Gerard getting State of Origin (after being on standby for the first two) with Ben Cummings, Bernard video referee for State of Origin and Chris (Hoppa) appointed to a Test in Hawaii (USA Tomahawks v Samoa),” Pratten said.
“Chris will be in Hawaii while CRL is there and will do one of its games.
“We struggle to attract referees in the country but it just shows there can be a career path with hard work and dedication for budding aspirants.”