Match officials appointed for first World Cup games with Ashley Klein to referee opener

NRL Grand Final referee Ashley Klein will take charge of the opening match of the World Cup between England and Samoa.

The list of match officials has been released for the first round of group games in the men’s competition.

Klein, one of the most respected referees in the game having officiated in both Super League and the NRL across 20 seasons, will be in the middle at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday.

He will be assisted by the RFL’s Jack Smith and Warren Turley as touch judges, with Adam Gee of the NRL as video referee.

Chris Kendall will take charge of Saturday’s other fixture, between Australia and Fiji, while Liam Moore will officiate Tonga and Papua New Guinea on Tuesday and Robert Hicks is set to blow the whistle when Wales face Cook Islands next Wednesday.

NRL officials Gerrard Sutton (Scotland v Italy), Grant Atkins (New Zealand v Lebanon) and Gee (France v Greece) will also control matches, alongside French official Ben Casty who will referee Sunday’s tie between Jamaica and England.