Experienced match official Russell Turner talks to members of the Ipswich Rugby League Referees’ Association.

Members of the Ipswich Rugby League Referees’ Association have received a massive boost ahead of their finals.

It came in the form of some of the game’s leading NRL match officials, who made the time to travel to the North Ipswich Reserve to conduct a session with the local referees.

Grant Atkins, Alan Shortall and Russell Turner spent time with the enthusiastic Ipswich members on the eve of their recent match between the Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium.

“It was mainly our younger referees who attended, and they absolutely loved it,” IRL Referees’ Association president Julie Gerchow said.

“You could see them standing 10 foot tall.”

Belinda Sleeman, one of rugby league’s brightest refereeing prospects who has officiated at Intrust Super Cup and NRL level, joined her local association on the evening as well.

“It was a great opportunity for them to meet and learn from referees at the elite level of the game,” Sleeman said. 

“These guys also began their careers at association level, and were able to share their stories and experiences about starting at the grass roots level and how they got to the NRL.

“We also did a skills session out on the field, focussing largely on positioning – being in the best spot to make good, confident decisions. 

“I could see they were inspired by their stories, and I hope it encourages them to keep working hard and aim to progress through the ranks.” 

As one of the game’s most experienced touch judges, Turner shared many important messages with the young group.

Turner recently notched up his 300th NRL appointment and has a string of State of Origin, international and City v Country representative matches to his name as well in a distinguished career.