‘This is not a gender issue’: Annesley warns players to show more respect to all refs after blowing up at Badger


Kasey Badger’s inexperience and not her gender is leading to NRL players pushing the boundaries, the competition’s head of football Graham Annesley says.

Badger’s performance has come under the microscope following an ill-tempered match between Canterbury and Wests Tigers that led to the referee sin-binning two players and the NRL dishing out $11,800 in fines.

Saturday’s 22-14 win for the Bulldogs was only the third NRL game Badger has taken charge of.

“This is not a gender issue, and my discussion today is not about gender,” Annesley said.

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

“We have to remember it doesn’t only happen to female referees.

“There are plenty of players who have towered over male referees and attempted to exert some influence.”

Annesley’s comments came soon after NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, who did not reference Badger by name, released a statement on Monday to say match officials deserved greater respect.

Badger has been heavily scrutinised and she found herself in the headlines after a Canberra-Gold Coast clash last month where she was routinely surrounded by players.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, whose side won the game, praised Badger’s courage while Titans coach Des Hasler was scathing of her officiating.

In the loss to the Dogs, the Tigers finished with 11 players on the field after David Klemmer (dissent) and Alex Seyfarth (headbutting) were sin-binned in the final 10 minutes.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Annesley said Klemmer was lucky to have not been sent off because he refused to leave the field after being sin-binned and then became embroiled in the fracas involving Seyfarth.

“I think he can consider himself fortunate to have not been sent off,” Annesley said.

“He was sent to the sin bin and from that moment on he has no right to participate in anything except get off the field.

“Kasey had to say to him get off the field and a touch judge also said you need to leave and it was only after another delay that he left the field.”

Annesley also suggested Canterbury hooker Reed Mahoney and five-eighth Matt Burton were also lucky to have not been binned.

The NRL announces match officials for this weekend’s games on Tuesday but Annesley would not guarantee if Badger would take the whistle.

Head office has made a habit of rotating referees in and out of games to start 2024.

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