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Cecchin pushes for referees’ psychologists

Veteran whistleblower Matt Cecchin could get his wish for referees to be given full-time access to sports psychologists after he announced he was leaving the NRL at season’s end.
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Cecchin confirmed his retirement on Friday, as he drew tired of criticism and the mounting pressure after having already achieved all he could in Australia with four State of Origin matches and three grand finals.

However he is desperate to go out with a legacy aimed at looking after the next generation, and has approached NRL CEO Todd Greenberg about having a full-time sports psychologists within the ranks after he sought the help of one in 2016 following public backlash over a decision.

“We have worked so hard on the physical aspect of what we do, for years and years and years. But we’ve done very little around the mental health space,” Cecchin told AAP.

“It’s the one thing I’ve asked for when I spoke to Todd a couple of weeks ago – I would like is a full-time sport psych to the referees.

“To not only help them deal with the noise and the pressure and the performance, but also to help them improve and deal with making decision making under different aspects and scenarios.”

It’s understood the NRL are seriously considering Cecchin’s idea, and it’s likely to happen as soon as next season.

Ahead of becoming just the seventh referee to reach 300 matches when Penrith meet Canberra on Sunday, the 44-year-old this week revealed to Fairfax Media the death threats and abuse levelled against his family throughout his 18-season career.

He hoped the revelations made around his retirement would act as a reminder to critics about the treatment of officials.

“That’s why I invite anyone to come into our offices and see how hard we train, how close we are as a group and what the morale is really like,” he said.

“The hardest time when it comes to coping with things is when I’m away from the game and the noise is a bit louder.”

He’s hopeful of picking up a job in the English Super League next year.

Meanwhile Sunday’s clash will also represent his 500th game as NRL official, when including 166 games as a touch judge and 34 as a video referee.

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