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The strength in committed individuals working as a team was one of the things Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire said admired most about referees, he told the NSWRL’s Major Competitions officials at their season launch this week.

The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, the Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup, Jersey Flegg Cup, and Sydney Shield begin their 2024 campaigns with Round One over the next two weekends being handled by 38 NSWRL referees.

The fifth NSWRL Major Competition – the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership – doesn’t kick off until 6 July to coincide with the NRLW season.

Maguire addressed the officials at a dinner in the Centre of Excellence on Monday (4 March) and told them of his time working with the NRL referees, when he had left the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2017 before he started coaching the Wests Tigers.

“I have a huge appreciation of what referees do … the intensity of the pressure you all feel but you get through it,” he said.

“That comes from your sacrifices and all the work you do in the background to make sure you are doing everything possible to make you sharp at that moment in the game when you need to be.

“I’ve seen the talent you girls and guys have in dissecting a game – what you can see that even coaches don’t.

“And there’s an honesty among you all. You give great feedback to each other and that’s a hard thing to do at times. But when you show that strength, the whole of the group lifts it standards and expectations.”

NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden, Board member Kevin Greene AM who is also Chair of the NSW Rugby League Referees Association (NSWRLRA), and NRL General Manager Elite Officiating Jared Maxwell were all present.

“Three officials involved in Grand Final day at Accor Stadium last year were all from our NSWRL Major Competitions referees, which is testament to how well our development and coaching programs are going,” Trodden said.

Mitch Currie, Daniel Luttringer and Cameron Paddy were all involved in the NRLW and NRL State Championship 2023 deciders – with Paddy recently announcing his retirement.

NSWRL Referees High Performance Coach Stuart Raper said the squad was “very professional and hard working”.

“In 2024 we will officiate a staggering 575 games across our five senior competitions culminating in grand finals in August, September and also representative games throughout the year, such as Country-City,” Raper said.

“That’s approximately 1,750 individual appointments, which shows the dedication and commitment of the men and women here.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us but one of the reasons for our successes over the past few years is working out of this state-of-the-art facility at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.

“We can hone our skills each week in an environment which fosters excellence.”

(Photo above: L-R Stuart Raper, Michael Maguire & NSWRL referees Clayton Wills, Karra-Lee Nolan)

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