Rival coaches clash over referee talks

SYDNEY ? Cowboys coach Graham Murray does not agree with rival mentor Tim Sheens seeking a personal audience with grand final referee Tim Mander, saying the whistleblower should be "left alone''. Sheens yesterday became the first coach in NRL history to hold a meeting with a referee in grand final week, talking with the official for "several minutes'' after yesterday morning's grand final breakfast.

The Tigers coach spoke with Mander while accompanied by NRL Referees Coach Robert Finch "on a range of issues'' ? much to Murray's disapproval. Murray was also offered the chance to speak with Mander after recently airing concerns that the Tigers surrendered in tackles but declined.

"I have spoken to Robert Finch, I believe Tim Sheens is going to speak to the referee (but) that's not on my agenda,'' Murray said.

"I think he (Mander) needs his space ? the referee will do what he has done all year.

"Robert has indicated to me that he will let me know how that conversation goes on.'' Asked if he agreed with Sheens meeting Mander, Murray said: "My personal opinion, no.''

Besides Murray's surrender tackles concerns, Sheens was also expected to question Mander about last weekend's game against St George Illawarra when Tigers skipper Scott Prince was warned about waving his arms at the whistleblower. Prince was warned that he could be penalised for dissent. Finch said he had no problem with Sheens setting a new precedent by talking to a grand final referee before kick-off.



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