11th October 2017, 10:31 | untitled

Nine UK-based Match Officials set for 2017 Rugby League World Cup

Nine UK-based Match Officials set for 2017 Rugby League World Cup

Congratulations to the nine UK-based Rugby League Match Officials who will be heading to Australia for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Full Time Match Officials Phil Bentham, Scott Mikalauskas, Liam Moore, Ben Thaler, Robert Hicks, Chris Kendall and James Child will be joined by part-time Match Official Mark Craven.

Meanwhile Bianca Zietsman heads down under to be part of the squad of officials for the historic 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.

26 Match Officials will be taking change of Men's World Cup matches, with the squad set to go into camp in Brisbane for the duration of the competition, which begins in Melbourne on 27 October when Australia take on England.

They will have their own performance manager, a physiotherapist, a logistics and operations manager and three coaches – Steve Ganson from England, Australia's Russell Smith and New Zealand's Luke Watts – working under RLWC2017 Head of Officiating, Tony Archer.

Commenting on the appointments, Rugby Football League Head of Match Officials Ganson said: "This is a huge opportunity and a great reward for our Match Officials. They have all worked tremendously hard to get this opportunity. I have every confidence in this squad and I know they will deliver on the world stage."

Robert Hicks added: "It's a huge honour to have been selected. You work hard all year to be involved in major matches and the World Cup is a great opportunity to work with other world class officials and showcase your ability."

Chris Kendall said: "It is a massive honour to be included in the squad to officiate the biggest competition in Rugby League.

"To be able to represent not only myself, but the Rugby Football League is a huge privilege and an opportunity that I am extremely grateful of.

"This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort that has been put in by all the officials and coaching staff this season.

"Being a Match Official has provided me with some great Rugby League experiences in my career so far and I would advise anyone who has an interest in Rugby League to get involved in refereeing."

Liam Moore, a recent addition to the full time team, added: "It is a great honour and privilege to be selected to go to the World Cup and the highlight of my career so far.

"A World Cup is the pinnacle of anyone's career and to go to Australia so early in my career is fantastic. We have all worked extremely hard this year and I am looking forward to officiating at the highest level and on the biggest stage."

Betfred Super League Grand Final Referee James Child commented: "I'm delighted to have been selected to officiate at the Rugby League World Cup.

"Having been privileged enough to have touch judged the last two World Cup Finals, I know what an honour it is to be involved at the highest level of international Rugby League. This will be the first time I will have refereed at a World Cup, so it will be even more special."

Ben Thaler said: "Being part of a World Cup squad is the pinnacle within any sporting career. After being part of the 2013 World Cup Match Official squad, I am really looking forward to the tournament and hope to use and apply the expertise gained from 2013, combined with the years I have been officiating, into this year's World Cup."

Phil Bentham, who took charge of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final this year, said: "It was brilliant to be selected for the 2013 World Cup. Unfortunately I missed out on the 2008 World Cup in Australia so, to be selected for the World Cup overseas this time around is fantastic."

Scott Mikalauskas said: "I feel very privileged, very happy and excited to go. I knew I had officiated well over the season but I didn't expect to go. I am very surprised and made up."

Part-time Match Official Mark Craven added: "I am absolutely humbled and proud to be selected as a Match Official for the World Cup.

"These are the kind of opportunities that are open to Match Officials and I would recommend anyone thinking about taking up the challenge of refereeing to do so."

Finally, Cardiff-based Bianca Zietsman has been drafted in as one of seven Match Officials who will take charge of Women's Rugby League World Cup matches.

Zietsman, a former rugby union Match Official, made her Rugby League debut in April 2016 and has officiated Kingstone Press National Conference League matches in 2017.

When asked how it felt to be selected, said: "It's unreal! I don’t believe it - to think where I started, it’s pretty phenomenal. I'm speechless!

"Just do it," is her message to any prospective Rugby League Match Officials.

"Stop thinking about it and do it! Visit the website and take it up, because if you take an opportunity you never know where you could go."