SUPER League referee Robert Hicks has taken the unprecedented step of meeting the supporter who sent him an online death threat during a Warrington Wolves game in person.

Hicks was the subject of a threat posted on Twitter during The Wire’s Challenge Cup victory over Hull KR in May, with the user posting the official would be “shot dead live on TV.”

Warrington launched an investigation and the police also got involved, but Hicks and Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick offered to invite the perpetrator to a face-to-face meeting.

On that basis, all agreed that a suspended banning order was sufficient punishment.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m making light of this – the incident caused significant worry and upset to my family,” Hicks said.

“But having discussed the matter with Karl and also the police, we thought we could make a more effective point by meeting face to face with the individual concerned.

“We did that at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, and although it was a difficult experience for all of us, I think we all left the room thinking it had been a worthwhile exercise.”

Fitzpatrick says Hicks deserves “a lot of credit” for his handling of the situation and that the club were only to happy to help facilitate his wishes.

He also believes the majority of supporters would concede that officials receive an unfair level of abuse, both from the terraces and online.

“Robert Hicks deserves a lot of credit for responding in this way, and we were happy to play our part,” he said.

“Everybody knows that we have been a bit edgier with our own use of social media this season, with the very clear aim of changing and raising the image and profile of the club and the Super League competition.

“But that brings a responsibility to make absolutely clear that certain things remain completely unacceptable – and this was very clearly an example of that.

“We’re not the only club who has had to tackle this sort of issue this season, and I think the vast majority of supporters would concede that the levels of abuse that match officials have to receive is unfair.

“We want more people – boys and girls, men and women – to want to become match officials, and that’s only going to happen if we change the culture through the game, and make it clear that they have to be treated with respect.

“We also want the Halliwell Jones Stadium to be a safe, welcoming place for children and families, and all of our supporters have a responsibility to play their part in that.

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“That’s the point of the RFL’s Enjoy the Game campaign, which Warrington and all the other Betfred Super League clubs are right behind.”