He’s been heavily involved in refereeing for the best part of three decades, but NSWRL Referees Coaching and Development Manager Tony Danks has called it a day, announcing his well-earned retirement.

Initially graded to the NSWRL in 1990, Danks was a touch judge at the highest level, including four State of Origin matches between 1992 and 1996 and 33 first grade games. He would continue officiating until 1999 and has worked in various referee development roles since, including his most recent post at the state’s governing body. After such a long career, the NSWRL Referees Association Life Member believes his retirement comes at a high point for the standard of refereeing.

“It’s my time to step down and a new face to take over,” Danks tells NSWRL.com.au. “I’ve been in the role for 10 years.

“I think refereeing at the moment is in a really good position, especially the NSW grade squad and the junior reps – they’ve had a great year. Levels of fitness, for a start, and the quality of their decision-making [have improved]. Both groups are exceptionally professional with their attitude, in particular the grade squad.

“Their level of professionalism is just first class.”

Rugby League officiating in Australia as a whole is nearing a pivotal moment, with discussions being held regarding a potential national structure for both NSW and Queensland referees. Current Chairman of NSW Rugby League Referees Association Paul Simpkins praised Danks’ efforts in preparing the system for a possible transition.

“Obviously things are changing in relation to a national structure and he’s seen it through to this point,” Simpkins says. “It’s now ready to go in to the next generation of officiating.

“It finds itself in a good position in that national structure and produce quality referees for future.”

Simpkins, who himself was an on-field NRL referee until 2007, was quick to point out Danks’ successes both on and off the field in the refereeing ranks.

“He’s been both an active referee in NSW as well as an administrator over a long period of time, it’s obviously a big part of his life and he’s contributed that to the NSWRL.

“From the Referees Association’s point of view he’s been a former chairman of the Referees Association, he has participated well in that organisation and has been a quality member over many, many years.”

The NSWRL would like to thank Danks for his service and wish him all the best in retirement.