SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Referee Matt Cecchin is seen during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Matt Cecchin's return to the NRL has been confirmed, after the referee quit last season in favour of a move to the Super League.

However, the UK government rejected his visa application on two separate occasions, forcing the experienced whistleblower to re-think his plans.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cecchin was so committed to the move overseas he sold half of his furniture, but has now used the short break to mull over a move back to the NRL.

The 45-year-old received death threats following a controversial call in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-final between England and Tonga, and also almost faked an injury during the 2018 season due to severe anxiety before a game.

Cecchin recently spoke to former referee and the NRL's head of elite football operations Graham Annesley, as well as his fiance and his sports psychologist, before making the decision to return to the NRL.

"I met with Graham on Thursday, I left him and had lunch with my fiance, we chatted about it and we were both in agreeance the NRL would be a good spot,'' Cecchin told SMH.

"I also made a call to my sports psych and had a discussion with her for half an hour and she was in agreeance as well that this was the right thing to do.

"Coming off the England-Tonga game, there was the trauma caused by that, there was the change last year required by me to officiate in a way that wasn't natural to me and wasn't part of my natural game.

"When I met Brent, it was after doing the 2011 grand final, and everything was 'you beaut'.

"Then I did the 2012 Origin I game in Melbourne and it all turned to custard quickly after that.

"In the last seven years he's seen the highs and lows, and like any partner he's instrumental to my happiness.

"Last year was really tough for us. I ask him how he felt about last year and the word he used was 'helpless'.

"There was nothing he felt he could do to help. He didn't know he was a tremendous help, but he was. It's no different to any other relationship. Your family and kids often suffer more because they don't have that in-built desire and resilience to go out there and do a job you can't explain to anyone why you love it so much.

"People ask, 'why do you love refereeing?'. It's just because. It's something I've done since the age of 12.''

Cecchin will join his fellow referees on Monday for the first time in 2019, although his availability for round one is still unknown.


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