THE Queensland Rugby League Referees High Performance Unit has again shown it can provide a genuine pathway for officials wanting to reach the highest level in the game, with a number of its members being offered contracts with the NRL.


Chris Butler who this week was appointed to take charge of the National Youth Competition grand final has been offered a fulltime contract to join the NRL squad for the 2014/2015 seasons; and will cap off a stellar year when he gets married to his fiance Simone in early December.


He is the third Queensland referee to be offered this opportunity following the footsteps of Brett Suttor in 2006 and Gavin Morris in 2008.


Fellow academy members Michael Gordon, Tim Rutherford and Nick Morel have been offered NRL part-time referee (second tier) contracts for 2014; while Belinda Sleeman has also been offered a 2014 NRL part-time referee contract via the Women in League Officials program.


This years Intrust Super Cup grand final referee Clayton Sharpe has had his multi-skilled contract with the NRL renewed, as have fellow Cup referees Peter Gough and Michael Wise.


We see this as a huge bonus and this is another clear progression and pathway for Queensland match officials, QRL Referee High Performance Coordinator John Topp said.


While Butlers new role will require him to make the move to Sydney; the remaining members of the squad will train out of the QAS facilities on Mondays (full days) from November 11 for season 2014.


The sessions will run as a partnership between the QAS, QRL and NRL and will mirror those run in Sydney.


We are excited that our match officials will be given this opportunity and wont have to be away from their family and travelling to Sydney every week, Mr Topp said.


In an added bonus, some additional members of the QRL Referees Academy will be able to experience the training of the top level officials with training, review, recovery, gym and theory sessions all taking place at the QAS facilities.


QRL Referees Academy member highlights


Chris Butler

27 years old

currently works for Event Rentals

member of the Brisbane RL Referees Association

1999 started refereeing in the Modified Games system (ran lines in 1998)

2014/15 NRL Fulltime Referee


Some Career Highlights

2006 National Under 18 Schoolboys Port Macquarie - Grand Final Referee

2007 Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship

2008 Queensland v NSW u18 Referee

2008 debut - 43 National Youth Competition games

2009 debut - 69 Queensland/Intrust Super games

2011 debut - NRL Touch Judge

2012 Queensland v NSW Residents Referee

2012 National Youth Competition Grand Final Touch Judge

2013 National Youth Competition Grand Final Referee


Michael Gordon

24 years old

currently works in the family owned Power Sports Trophy business

member of the Gold Coast RL Referees Association

2003 started refereeing in the Modified Games system

2014 NRL Part time Referee second tier


Some Career Highlights

2010 National Under 18 Schoolboys Burleigh - Grand Final Referee

2011 Queensland v NSW Under 16 Referee

2011 FOGS Colts Grand Final Referee

2011/12 Gold Coast A Grade Grand Final Referee

2012 debut - 12 National Youth Competition games

2012 debut - 14 Queensland/Intrust Super games

2013 Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship

2013 NRL Referees Academy

2013 Queensland v NSW Under 18 Referee

2013 FOGS Cup Grand Final Referee


Tim Rutherford

27 years old

currently works for NRL as a Game Development Officer

member of the Brisbane RL Referees Association

2000 started refereeing in the Modified Games system

2014 NRL Part time Referee second tier


Some Career Highlights

2006 National Under 15 Schoolboys - Perth

2007 National Under 18 Schoolboys Townsville

2010 debut - 25 National Youth Competition games

2011 debut 31 Queensland/Intrust Super Cup games

2012 Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship

2012 FOGS Cup Grand Final Referee

2013 NRL Referees Academy


Nick Morel

26 years old

currently works for Suncorp as a Portfolio Officer Governance & Process

member of the Brisbane RL Referees Association

2001 started refereeing in the Modified Games system

2014 NRL Part time Referee second tier


Some Career Highlights

2007 National Under 15 Schoolboys Adelaide

2008 National Under 18 Schoolboys Darwin

2009 Queensland v NSW u16 Referee

2009 FOGS Colts Grand Final Referee

2010 debut 20 National Youth Competition games

2011 debut 17 Queensland Cup / Intrust Super Cup games

2012 Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship

2013 NRL Referees Academy


Belinda Sleeman

26 years old

currently works for The Courier Mail as a News Producer

previously worked for The Morning Bulletin in Rockhampton and The Ipswich Times and QRL

member of the Ipswich RL Referees Association

2006 started refereeing in the Modified Games system in Rockhampton

2014 NRL Part time Referee WILOP (Women in League Officials Program)


Some Career Highlights

2010 National Under 15 Schoolboys Canberra

2010 QRL Cyril Connell Under 16 Grand Final Referee

2012/13 Ipswich Reserve Grade Grand Final Referee

2013 National Youth Competition Quarter Final Touch Judge