Why Origin is snared in NRL’s crackdown battle

State of Origin must be refereed the same way as the NRL for the league’s controversial high tackle crackdown to maintain credibility, NSW great Peter Sterling says.

For that reason, the Blues must be prepared to survive with 12 men at some time during the match and have picked a team capable of doing so, Sterling believes.

“I like the NSW team because I think whatever way that the game is officiated, they’ve got the right players there,” Sterling said on Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.

“I don’t quite know what Origin we’re going to see. I think that they have to referee is the same as club football because otherwise it loses credibility, what the game hierarchy is trying to achieve.”

The Blues picked a side without any obvious candidates for a stint in the sin-bin during next Wednesday’s series opener in Townsville. Yet if they do cop a 10-minute blow, they are well-equipped to handle the situation.

“This is a side that might have to defend with 12 players out there for a period of time,” Sterling said.

“There are guys there who’ve got big motors, who can play big minutes, who’ve got good leg speed and who are aggressive. So I think that whatever scenario is thrown at them, they can handle it.”

NSW coach Brad Fittler has been a staunch supporter of the high tackle crackdown and previously said that defending with 12 players would just become part of the game.

“I think what we’re showing right now, you need to learn how to play with 12 players,” Fittler said on The Sunday Footy Show.

“This is going to be [ongoing]. The accidental ones are also going to be sin-binned as well.”

Gerard Sutton has been appointed as the referee for Origin I.

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