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Klein, Sharpe to referee World Cup deciders

Ashley Klein will return to Old Trafford as the game’s No.1 referee after he and Belinda Sharpe were appointed to control this weekend’s men’s and women’s World Cup finals.

Klein, who refereed the 2008 World Cup, will cap a stellar season in which he controlled all three State of Origins and the NRL grand final by taking charge of the World Cup decider between Australia and Toa Samoa.

After beginning his refereeing career in England, Klein is no stranger to the “Theatre of Dreams”, as he was in charge of the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Super League grand finals at Old Trafford before moving to the NRL.

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“To referee a World Cup final at Old Trafford is pretty special,” Klein said. “It is an amazing place.

“I was lucky enough to do three Super League grand finals there, so I understand how special it and obviously, Manchester United is famous all around the world so I am looking forward to it.”

For Sharpe, the appointment is a successful finish to a ground-breaking tournament in which she and Kasey Badger both refereed men’s World Cup matches.

Sharpe refereed the England v Greece World Cup match at Sheffield
Sharpe refereed the England v Greece World Cup match at Sheffield ©Getty Images

They each had control of a women’s semi-final in the fog at York on and Sharpe won the nod to take charge of the decider between the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns at Old Trafford.

“It’s such an historic place. I know all of the players are excited about playing there in both competitions, and the officials are no different,” Sharpe said.

“We are certainly looking forward to being there and being part of the occasion.

“I am just really happy to be part of the World Cup campaign and referee in any capacity so to progress to a final as referee is a thrill. I am excited.”

Sharpe will be assisted by Australian touch judges Wyatt Raymond and Darian Furner, with Adam Gee as video referee, Liam Moore to adjudicate on captain’s challenges and Badger in the standby role.

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Super League officials Jack Smith and Warren Turley will be the touch judges for the men’s final, with Chris Kendall the video referee, Grant Atkins responsible for captain’s challenges and Gerard Sutton the reserve referee.

After six weeks in camp together, members of the World Cup match officials squad took turns in congratulating Klein and Sharpe following the announcement of their appointments at an afternoon tea in Manchester.

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“We are quite a close squad now and hopefully this happens more often, whereby an English referee comes to Australia and vice-versa,” Klein said.

“As a lot of people have recognised, the officiating has been of a high standard throughout the whole tournament and that is a credit to every single squad member.

“Although there is only one referee, decisions that are made are inclusive of the touch judges, the video referee and everyone else who comes into that, so it is a big team effort to perform each game.”

Sharpe said being involved in the World Cup was set to benefit the likes of herself, Badger, Raymond, Furner and Todd Smith when they return to the NRL next season.

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“We are not dissimilar to a team,” Sharpe said. “Coming together like this is such a unique experience and you certainly learn from the other officials and form some great friendships.

“I think where we can share information about the game and resources, it is only going to strengthen both competitions but also the international game for future Tests and World Cups.”

Men’s World Cup final: Australia v Samoa

Referee: Ashley Klein. Touch judges: Jack Smith, Warren Turley. Reserve referee: Gerard Sutton. Video referee: Chris Kendall. Captain’s challenge: Grant Atkins

Women’s World Cup final: Australia v New Zealand

Referee: Belinda Sharpe. Touch judges: Wyatt Raymond, Darian Furner. Reserve referee: Kasey Badger. Video referee: Adam Gee. Captain’s challenge: Liam Moore.

Wheelchair World Cup final: England v France

Attack referee: Ollie Cruikshank. Defence referee: Laurent Abrial. In-goal referees: David Butler, David Roig. Reserve referee: Steve Hewson.

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