"Always aspirational" Queensland Rugby League High Performance Unit match official Nick Pelgrave has had a huge week.
Pelgrave was, on Tuesday, appointed to take charge of Sunday's Intrust Super Cup grand final - the same day his wife Jordy gave birth to their first child, Mila May Robin Pelgrave.
"It's pretty special," Pelgrave said.
"The pending arrival of our first child was due to be 15 days later, but it just so happened that grand final week was a good week for my wife to deliver our first baby girl.
"Generally speaking, a grand final announcement would probably be pretty high on the list of important events within a day, but... in the bigger scheme of things, the creation of family on Tuesday was a really special moment.
"It's still pretty surreal to be honest. I was overcome, overwhelmed, when I first saw her for the first time.
"My wife, she's a trooper. She just took it all in her stride, whereas I was pretty visibly overcome. It's quite funny... the nurses asked if I was okay because they thought I'd gone into a state of shock. When in fact, it was probably Jordy who needed to be checked on given she'd just delivered our beautiful baby girl. Certainly can't wipe the smile off my face."
Pelgrave said getting the nod was icing on the cake for him on Tuesday; he last shared decider duties with Jarrod Cole in 2017.
Match: Devils v WM Seagulls
Grand Final -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
"After it was announced I took a bit of time to reflect on it. Reflect on the fact that it's been four years since I was last at one in an on-field capacity. I was in a standby capacity in 2019, but to be on-field again is pretty special," Pelgrave, who made his Intrust Super Cup debut in Round 3, 2015, said.
"Throughout that reflection I took the time to think about some of the people who have come before in terms of officiating Intrust Super Cup grand finals and there's a pretty esteemed list, so to be the first single ref since Clayton Sharpe, who obviously holds the record for the most - and most consecutive grand finals - at this level, is pretty special."
Pelgrave said, prior to this, the highlight in his career was refereeing with Brough, who he has been friends with since the age of 14, at the end of 2019 when Townsville Blackhawks played Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the preliminary final.
Pelgrave said he had worked hard to get to the position he found himself in now, starting back in 2019, and he was glad Brough would be there with him.
"In 2019 I lost a grandmother and an uncle... events like that make you take stock, make you reflect on what's important to you, then the 2020 stand down through COVID-19 lent itself to learning what training method works for me," Pelgrave said.
"We didn't have a real structured training program, which in the first instance, for someone who has had a training program presented to them on a weekly or fortnightly, or monthly basis, since forever - that was a challenge initially, but I really enjoyed the ability to create my own adventure and do a bunch of different training methods from getting on the bike and cycling for hours at a time, or jumping into an at-home Pilates class with my wife.
"It was good to a) take stock, b) understand I'm not always going to have a training program provided to me, so understand what works for me, and then this year I've just been able to train hard under John Mitchell and the S&C crew and put myself in a really good spot physically.
"Then obviously off-field stuff has contributed to that as well. It's been a couple-of-year journey, but there's been a few contributing factors that I've worked pretty hard on to get me here."
Pelgrave said he was glad to have Brough as the HIA/standby referee on Sunday.
"Broughy and I have been through plenty. I've known him for more than half of my life and there's been some trials, there's been some tribulations... whether through officiating or touch football... we've done plenty together," Pelgrave said.
"To think that the last two-ref game in Queensland was Liam Kennedy and Broughy in the GF of '19... but to have the last Queensland-based officials do a two-ref game in him and I is something I'm pretty fond of. I was really fortunate to be part of his NRL touch line debut as a standby that day, so I don't really believe in any sort of higher order or anything like that, but the fact of the matter is, he and I have got a lot of history.
"It's a healthy competition between him and I... we don't speak about it a whole heap," Pelgrave said, adding he was touched by Brough's Instagram post on Tuesday night congratulating him.
"It's sort of bittersweet because I was there for him in '19 as a standby and now he's there for me now, this year. Not that you ever want to see your mate go through trying times, but the fact of matter is, he has been the benchmark of officiating in this competition for the last two seasons. We put a line through 2020 of course, so the last two seasons being 2019 and to go down to the last two this year indicates that he's in a really good spot.
"Can't wipe the smile off my face."
Match officials for the Intrust Super Cup grand final
Referee: Nick Pelgrave
Touch judges: Nick Morel and Michael Wise
Standby referee / HIA official: Tyson Brough
Video referee: Tim Rutherford
Video referee supervisor: Bruce Schmidt