Canberra captain defends axed NRL referee

Experienced referee Ashley Klein has been dropped from the second round of the NRL finals series.
Experienced referee Ashley Klein has been dropped from the second round of the NRL finals series.

Canberra co-captain Josh Hodgson has defended Ashley Klein after the senior NRL referee was axed from week two of the finals series.

Klein paid the price for blunders in the Raiders' 12-10 qualifying final win against Melbourne after the NRL admitted the Storm copped three incorrect calls.

State of Origin referee Klein was dropped alongside touch judge Michael Wise after the pair bungled a crucial call in the dying minutes.

Wise ruled Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu had touched the sideline as he caught a short kick off in the 78th minute but replays showed he stayed in the field of play.

Klein also failed to sin bin Raiders players on two occasions for slowing down the play in the second half.

Hodgson said "you make your own luck" but that everyone was prone to mistakes and decisions even out over the course of a season

"The Vunivalu call, maybe that was a bit of luck," Hodgson said.

"Sure it makes a difference on the sway of the game but we'd been defending well all night, we only conceded one try and that was off a kick.

"We've had plenty go against us, I remember at Shark Park we had a touch judge put his flag up then put it back down again and the try went against us. That's just footy."

Klein refereed last year's grand final and Hodgson said he was still one of the best whistleblowers in the game.

"The referees have got a really tough job. It's hard for them and they're never going to get everything right," he said.

"I understand some calls are big and they can get it wrong but sometimes that happens and it's part and parcel of the game.

"It's not a nice situation but I thought the refs that have been dropped, it will obviously be hard for them this week but I thought Ashley Klein was really good on his communication.

"He was very good with both captains with his decisions and letting you know why he made them and what he's looking for in the future."

Australian Associated Press