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Changes to the 2023 NSWRL Referees Development Squad

The 2023 season will broaden the experiences and opportunities for the 85 officials picked in the NSWRL Referees Development Squad.

Previously known as the Junior Reps Squad because officials handled those competitions for boys and girls aged teams, the Development Squad has widened its reach.

“For the first time it is the one squad – no separation of regional and metropolitan officials,” NSWRL Referees High Performance Manager Stuart Raper said.

“The reason for the name-change and slightly different direction is that we cover a large number of Junior Reps competitions now.

“So, we are about giving opportunities to people not based on where they live but on their ability.

“We wanted to give country refs – say in the Newcastle area for example – the opportunity to handle games in the Sydney metro area, and vice versa.

“It gives referees more opportunities at the different levels of our NSWRL competitions.”

The Development Squad will handle games for UNE SG Ball Cup (Under 19s), UNE Harold Matthews Cup (Under 17s), SLE Laurie Daley (Under 18s) and SLE Andrew Johns (Under 16s) Cups, Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup (Under 19s), Lisa Fiaola Cup (Under 16s), Men’s Championships and other age-development competitions.

The reach for these Junior Reps games is as far north as Ballina, inland to Cowra, all the way down the south coast as far as Moruya, Canberra, alongside all Sydney metropolitan districts.

The 2023 Development Squad will be overseen by NSWRL Referees Operations Manager Paul Kalina and Officiating Development Officer and former NRL referee Gavin Badger.

“They work closely together on training, selections and appointments, and the review process,” Raper said.

“We want to ensure everyone is getting the best we can possibly do inside our refereeing framework here at NSWRL.”

Included in the 85-member NSWRL Development Squad are eight women.

“We are excited by this and ideally want to see that number increase,” Raper said.

“The eight women currently have different experience levels, but we want more female officials, particularly to reflect the growth in numbers and standard of play in Tarsha Gale and Lisa Fiaola competitions.”

The number of female registrations for NSWRL competitions in 2022 grew to 23,203.

It will be over the 20,000-mark again in 2023 making it the third year in a row that milestone has been bettered.

The Development Squad sits alongside the High Performance Squad, overseen by Raper, which looks after NSWRL’s two premier competitions – The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup and the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership. They in turn feed into the NRL and NRLW.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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