The NSW star's comments come after Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan produced a pre-written list of all the calls he believed went against his side when he faced a press-conference following the Premier’s 15-14 extra-time loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.

His ensuing rant resulted with the mentor being slapped with a $30,000 fine and a response from NRL chief Todd Greenberg who issued a statement defending the referees.

Maloney said the Sharks lost the game, not the adjudicators.   

"As soon as you start criticising refs, they're in a tough position," Maloney told Fairfax Media.

"That stems down to how referees in junior footy and grassroots are treated. The refs have got to be respected, it's a dangerous precedent when you start having shots at them with where it leads to down the path.

"Then there's the other side where people want to see some accountability from the referees, that's the issue for people.

"At the end of the day I'm a big believer that the refs don't decide footy games, regardless of how things go.

"They're out there trying to do their best regardless. If they do get it the wrong way, I'm sure it's not intentional at all. In 80 minutes, when you look back, there's a lot of things you could have done differently to change the result.

“It is what it is, you live with it, move on and do it all again next year."