FOR years, Group Seven Rugby League was lucky enough to have one of the top female referees in the country, in Karra-Lee Nolan (who is now at a NSWRL level), officiating their competition.
And now it appears the South Coast has another one pegged for great things with the whistle, after Rhianna Boag's latest selection in the 2021 national women's championship squad.
"NRL development officer Rob Bowen contacted me on Wednesday and told me I was invited to be part of the program," Boag said
"I was initially in shock which quickly turned to excitement to be named part of an amazing women's officiating program.
"This selection means so much to me and I hope this will open further opportunities for me - I am so honoured.
"I will have the privilege of meeting and learning from other talented female referees and mentors as well as forming new relationships.
"I am passionate and love refereeing and I aspire to become a female NRL referee.
"With the help of my mentors in Group Seven, they have helped and enabled me to develop my skills enough to be selected."
The Stingrays of Shellharbour product started her involvement in rugby league as a 10-year-old, before deciding four years later that she wanted to try her hand as a referee.
One year later, while still playing league tag and the November Nines for the Flinders Field-based club, she officiated her first game.
"I gave up playing last year due to my commitments with school, work, refereeing and going to the gym to stay fit," she said.
In that short period of time, the year 11 student at St Joseph's Catholic High School has already officiated a number of big matches, including a number of open women's tackle matches, the 16.1s grand final at WIN Stadium in 2019 and the Group Seven reserve grade decider in 2020, as well the under 18s and third grade during trials matches this season.
"Since joining the Group Seven referees two years ago, I have gained so much confidence, not only within myself but in my ability as an official and confidence in my decision making - due to ongoing weekly training, mentoring, continual reading and updating myself of the new laws and putting them into practice," the 16-year-old said.
"The coaching and mentoring from Stretch [Greg Nolan], Paul Lees Wayne Lees and the rest of the association has been exceptional.
"I would like to personally thank them for the ongoing support, without them I wouldn't be in the position I am in now."
The Shell Cove resident hopes her time at Redcliffe in May for the women's NRL 2021 championships can springboard her career to even greater heights.
"My time in Redcliffe will include a range of training, education sessions to enhance my development as an official and as an individual, as well as officiating at the championships - the highest Women's event in the country," she said.
"Following that trip, my refereeing goals for this season are to continue to referee the women's tackle and gain a grand final centre in internationals or a position in the senior grand finals.
"My aspirations are to be involved in representative refereeing with the aim to referee at a higher level.
"Once I complete year 12, I also hope to gain employment in the sports industry."
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