• Gavin Badger stands his ground as then-Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis remonstrates with him in 2013. (AAP)Source: AAP
The National Rugby League's only Indigenous referee, Gavin Badger will end an 18 season career in the game after the governing body chose not to renew his contract.
Jodan Perry

24 Sep 2020 - 3:55 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2020 - 5:27 PM

The third most capped NRL referee of all-time, Gavin Badger, will finish his career in the top ranks after running the touchline for the Bulldogs-Panthers clash on Saturday.

A proud Gadigal man with Dhungutti bloodlines, Badger has been in charge of 354 games at the highest level, and held the touch judges flag 57 times.

He has not refereed a match since the competition restarted in May.

Badger's daughter Shante confirmed the news of his impending departure from the NRL squad on her Instagram account.

In a post, she said it was not Badger's choice to end his refereeing career and that "it's not how you deserve for it to end. You deserve better."  

His wife Kasey, also an NRL referee, shared the same picture with the words "There goes my hero."

An NRL spokesman told NITV News the decision not to renew Badger's contract was not related to the recent staff cuts at the governing body. He said that Badger was told earlier in the year that he would not be getting a contract for 2021.

He also said Badger's position in the 22-person referring squad will be replaced.

Former NRL star Dean Widders said he always held a high opinion of the veteran whistleblower.

"He was inspirational. Gav was a young bloke that grew up in Redfern and became an NRL referee. He was such a good ref too, he was an awesome communicator, he was well respected and he is just a good person," he said.

"And when he came and refereed at the Koori Knockout in the early 2000's it changed the tournament and helped raise it's professionalism forever. I always remember how he did that."