Queenslands leading referees are poised to reap the benefits from ground-breaking new partnerships with the NRL and the Queensland Academy of Sport.
The new arrangement with the NRL means Queensland members of the NYC Referees squad no longer have to fly to Sydney for regular sessions, saving more than 80 yearly flights over the border.
In a huge boost, they can now train and hone their skills in their own backyard.
And this isnt any old backyard either.
The excellent QAS facilities are providing the match officials with the perfect platform to hit the ground running in 2014.
On Monday, the Brisbane-based NYC Referees squad tackled a range of activities at the Nathan venue.
The morning kicked off with a gruelling conditioning session which would easily match the intensity of a professional rugby league teams pre-season work out.
It was followed by a cool down in the QAS Recovery Centre. The squad then took part in theory projects and one-on-one meetings, before rounding out the day with an afternoon of boxing and games.
Sydney-based NYC Referees coach Bernard Sutton was on hand to work with the group, along with QRL Referees Academy Manager Eddie Ward and QRL Referees High Performance Co-ordinator John Topp.
Sutton is excited about the benefits the new program can deliver.
This year weve looked at the structure that the NRL has for refereeing and weve identified a lot of talent coming out of the Queensland base, Sutton told QRL TV.
In trying to transition that from Queensland to our full-time squad, weve now increased our NYC Referees squad and weve got nine part time officials based out of Brisbane.
So every Monday I travel up to spend the day with them.
QRL TV also caught up with emerging referees Michael Gordon and Nick Pelgrave at the QAS on Monday. Watch the videos now!
It has been a big month for the QRL referees, with the recent staging of their High Performance and Talent Identification Camp.
Held at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast from November 29 to December 1, the camp was devised by NRL Referees Development Manager Stephen Clark and QRL High Performance Co-ordinator John Topp.
It undertook a different format to previous years and the extensive program mirrored the content covered in the NRL Rookie Camp; which was also held on the Gold Coast over the same weekend.
The camp mixed physical and mental training and topics were derived from the NRL Welfare and Education program and included Social Media, Cultural Awareness, Nutrition and Mental Health.
There were more than 124 attendees who worked through the packed schedule; and despite the long days, all participants were highly engaged throughout the weekend.
A number of QRL Referees Conferences will be held in February and March next season with a focus on the more technical aspects of officiating.