14 Jul 2010

Referees need to get fitter to keep up with the game: ABs

4:02 pm on 14 July 2010

International referees need to improve their fitness of they're to keep up with the pace of the modern game, says All Blacks coach Wayne Smith.

He says the All Blacks in particular are keeping the ball in play longer rather than kicking for touch, reducing the number of set pieces and opportunities for referees to catch their breath.

Smith's comments follow the All Blacks' 32-12 win over the Springboks in Auckland, where 46-year-old referee Alan Lewis appeared to struggle to keep up with play at times and was criticised for missing several incidents.

Lewis's struggles prompted New Zealand coach Graham Henry to renew his call for a second match referee to be made available to relieve the first after a period of time.