The World’s best are coming for the Rugby League World Cup and that includes the match officials. RLWC2017 head of officiating Tony Archer today announced a squad of match officials for the World Cup and for the first time each of the 26 is drawn from the NRL or Super League competitions only.

In another first, Belinda Sleeman is set to become the first female match official appointed to a World Cup fixture after being included in the squad chosen by Archer and RLWC2017 match officials coach Steve Ganson.

The match officials will act as the tournament’s 15th team and like the players representing each of the 14 nations they will go into camp together in Brisbane for the duration of RLWC2017, which begins in Melbourne on 27 October when Australia plays England.

They will have their own performance manager, a physiotherapist, a logistics and operations manager and three coaches – Ganson from England, Australia’s Russell Smith and New Zealand’s Luke Watts – working under Archer.

Archer said the performances of the match officials during the tournament would determine who was appointed to the World Cup final in Brisbane on 2 December.

There will be some key differences to the way NRL matches are officiated, with World Cup games controlled by one referee – not two – and an in-goal video referral system replacing the Bunker for checking contentious decisions.

There will also be no shot clock for scrums and goal lines drop outs but common rules used in Super League and the NRL will be in operation, including a seventh tackle from the 20-metre re-start if the ball is kicked dead and a tap re-start from a 40:20 kick. Golden point will only be used in finals matches.

Grant Atkins Match Official Chris McMillan Match Official
Philip Bentham Match Official Scott Mikalauskas Match Official
Chris Butler Match Official Liam Moore Match Official
Matt Cecchin Match Official Dave Munro Match Official
Steve Chiddy Match Official Henry Perenara Match Official
James Child Match Official Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski Match Official
Mark Craven Match Official Tim Roby Match Official
Ben Cummins Match Official Belinda Sleeman Match Official
Robert Hicks Match Official Jon Stone Match Official
Adam Gee Match Official Bernard Sutton Match Official
Chris Kendall Match Official Chris Sutton Match Official
Ashley Klein Match Official Gerard Sutton Match Official
Jared Maxwell Match Official Ben Thaler Match Official
Michael Wise Match Official

NZRL National Referees Manager Luke Watts said.” This is a fantastic reward for Henry Perenara and Chris McMillan. They have been selected in the squad on merit, as the criteria for selection was based purely on performance with no automatic country allocation. Both have made tremendous strides in 2017 moving up the NRL ranking. We are making excellent headway in international referee relations.

“Their selections will have a flow-on effect for NZ officials. Both Henry and Chris are also active in the development of domestic NZ officials, giving up their time to speak at courses and offer coaching to referees.”