NRL news 2024, referee Kasey Badger abuse not a gender issue but Billy Slater blasts cowards

Billy Slater has taken aim at “cowards” who piled on to abuse referee Kasey Badger over the weekend.

But NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley believes the vitriol was not exacerbated by the fact Badger is a woman, and had more to do with her inexperience.

Badger was criticised for losing control of the game at Accor Stadium on Saturday in which three decisions were successfully overturned by the Tigers, and two of their players were sin-binned but Aidan Sezer allowed to stay on the field following an ugly tackle.

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Players including Tigers prop David Klemmer voiced their anger at Badger on the field, but the worst comments came on social media.

Rob Bechara, who hosts a Tigers fan podcast, tweeted Badger should get “Back to the kitchen you dumb f—” and labelled her a “bitch”.

Despite this, Annesley said the criticism was not gender-based.

“This is not a gender issue,” Annesley told media on Monday.

“Even when referees do make mistakes, they don’t make mistakes because of their gender – they make mistakes because they’re human.

“Plenty of players have towered over male referees, and attempted to exert some influence. It doesn’t only happen to female referees. It’s not a gender issue.

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“In this particular case, Kasey is in [charge] of her third NRL game, she’s a rookie referee, and players will try to test rookie referees, regardless of gender. They’ll see how far they can push them.

“Referees accept they’ll be tested, but we have to know where that line in the sand is, and not overstep that mark.

“It can incite the fans. She’ll learn an enormous amount from that game.”

Slater has been vocal about keyboard warriors on social media before.

He was concerned by what he read following Saturday’s game, saying Badger actually handled the fiery contest well.

“I applaud Kasey Badger for putting them in the bin,” he told Nine’s The Billy Slater Podcast.

“If you think you can do a better job, go and do it. Go and put your hand up to be a referee.

“Don’t go on social media and be a coward and abuse someone. If you think you can do better than the person you’re having a go at, go and put the boots on, grab a whistle… you’ve got no right to abuse anyone.

“The referees do a fantastic job, we need them. If we don’t have referees we don’t have a game.

“I see that as a coward act.”

The NRL will reveal its round 10 referee appointments on Tuesday afternoon.

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