Warrington Chief Executive Karl Fitzpatrick has spoken out in response to St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus’s scathing criticism of Wembley referee Robert Hicks.

McManus called into question the integrity of Hicks in his match programme notes last week, a week after his side were beaten 18-4 by Warrington in the Challenge Cup Final, and since went on to state Hicks should not have been appointed as the official for the match.

The comments have been met with criticism and a damning response from the RFL, but Fitzpatrick has now also expressed his disappointment at the situation, highlighting that online abuse of officials is a growing issue that needs to be addressed.

“To read the comments by a club chairman almost discrediting that was very disappointing,” he told Warrington Guardian.

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“When you have club chairman questioning them in such a public way, it really is disappointing.

“They have a difficult enough job and without the officials we would not have a game.

“As a sport I think we do give so much focus to referees and not on the players as it should be.