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NSWRL’s connection with Fiji National Rugby League has this week been strengthened with the sponsorship of two Fijian match officials, who have visited NSWRL competitions with the hope of lifting the standard of refereeing in their local competitions.

Peniasi Wari, 23, and Sereima Kurivodo, 19, witnessed a high standard of officiating first-hand in Round 21 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, attending the Wyong Roos v North Sydney Bears match at Morry Breen Oval. They were then welcome additions to the refereeing team at the 2016 All Schools Carnival, which also had members from the NRL’s Referee Elite Performance Unit on hand to provide support and guidance.

Wari, who is a Referee’s Coordinator in his local competition, was thankful for the opportunity to learn and take his experience back to Fiji.

“I’d like to take this moment to thank each and everyone for the wonderful time we’ve spent together,” Wari told “Especially in the three-day carnival here at St Marys, I really enjoyed it.

“We came here with nothing, so I hope that when I go back on Sunday we’ll take more things back to Fiji to lift the standard of Rugby League in Fiji.”

Wari was not out of his league, however, and while he had never officiated a mod-league game before, he was quick to pick up the smaller format.

“I was running on the line on Monday and I started in the centre on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I really enjoyed my time in the centres,” Wari said. “I like the standard and the interpretation of the rules and the laws of the games.”

For Kurivodo, meanwhile, it’s a slightly different story – she is relatively new to the game altogether and only completed her refereeing course in earlier this year.

“I used to play sevens rugby union and just at the end of last year – I think November – I shifted to league and I really enjoyed playing Rugby League,” Kurivodo said. “In January one of my coaches asked me if I can do the refereeing course and I accepted.

“It’s a big difference from Fiji to here even though I’ve learned a lot. Even the touch judges – I really like the signals and all those things – in Fiji we weren’t doing that much.

“When we go back to Fiji I’ll try to lift the standard of Rugby League.”

NSWRL’s sponsorship of Wari and Kurivodo – in partnership with the FNRL – has been a capacity-building exercise, with the potential for a Fiji-based team to join the Intrust Super Premiership NSW in the foreseeable future. With the standard of play and officiating already rapidly improving in the Pacific nation, both referees have their sights set on NSWRL’s premier competition should the opportunity arise.