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NRL ref has used same whistle for 27 years

Canberra may have brought an end to the league's longest grand final drought.

But it's been 27 years and counting for Ben Cummins' whistle.

Cummins was on Tuesday appointed as the lead referee alongside Gerard Sutton for Sunday's NRL grand final between the Sydney Roosters and Raiders.

And when he signals kick-off for what will be his fifth decider, he does so with the same whistle he used when he debuted in an under-6s match.

"I have two whistles, but I have one that I use all the time. So they're a bit old now," Cummins said on Tuesday.

"They're the same ones since I debuted as a 16-year-old."

The 43-year-old revealed all parts of the whistle remained the same; from the wooden pea that he boils in water and vinegar, to the rope it's attached to.

"I just wash it every week because of the sweat," he said.

Cummins estimated blowing the same whistle for more 500 games, including the unforgettable 2015 grand final between North Queensland and Brisbane.

That was the only other time Cummins and Sutton, also refereeing his fifth decider, have presided over the biggest game on the NRL calendar.

"I'm not great on the memories, but I do remember that (game)," Cummins said.

"It was just fantastic to be part of it. I always remember Ben Hunt dropping the ball and feeling for him at the time.

"But even the kick, Johnathan Thurston, and then the try at the end.

"It was pretty special. That's why I'm so grateful to be part of things like that. Because you're there and you've experienced it."

The video officials for the game will be Jared Maxwell and Ben Galea, with Chris Butler and Nick Beashel the touch judges.

Kasey Badger and Daniel Schwass will officiate the women's grand final, while Todd Smith and Tyson Brough will referee the State Championship.

Badger will be the first woman to be lead referee in the women's decider.

Referee Belinda Sharpe, who was overlooked for the men's grand final, wasn't considered for the women's game because officials remain in their competition.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said Sharpe opted to officiate in the men's finals series before the start of the NRLW competition a month ago.

"If she had wanted to referee in the NRLW, that would've happened, and she would've been competing for that game," Annesley said.

"But she wants to compete at the highest level possible.

"And it would've been unfair on the people who were officiating in that competition to bring someone in who hadn't been there."

© AAP 2019