THE NRL, CRL and NSWRL have introduced a new program for emerging regional and metropolitan NSW referees that gives them the opportunity to officiate higher quality games of rugby league and in turn, help them reach their full potential.
A group of 14 officials, seven from regional NSW, including Group Seven’s Karra-Lee Nolan, and seven from metropolitan NSW have been chosen to participate in the program.
NRL referees emerging and development coach Shayne Hayne believes that the introduction of the program will allow some of the state’s best up-and-coming referees to officiate at a consistent level, with the opportunity to progress.
“After the completion of the junior representative rounds in both the NSW and CRL competitions, we’ve looked at the officials that are ready to progress through the pathway,” Hayne said.
“With this accelerated learning group, it gives us the opportunity to move them to other competitions in order to challenge them or to see where they’re at.
“It is primarily about giving them better quality football to accelerate them quicker along the pathway.”
Hayne says the regional competitions that would be part of program include Central Coast, Illawarra and Canberra but also the Jersey Flegg, Sydney Shield or Ron Massey Cup competitions in metropolitan NSW.
“Even though we’ve got CRL and NSWRL, they’ll be a squad of 14,” he said.
“Where they officiate, it doesn’t matter, NSW referees can referee in the country and vice versa.”
Sean Villa, an ex- representative referee from the Illawarra region, will be the manager/coach of the group and will analyse reports that come back from each game to give feedback on the group’s performance.
CRL accelerated learning group: Billy Greatbatch (Group 10), Joey Butler (Group 21), Nick Martin (Group 21), Bailey Hibbit (Central Coast), Louis Matheson (Newcastle), Karra-Lee Nolan (Group Seven) and Brad Hart (Group Nine).