Former local referee to control NRL Under-20 trial match

mattFormer Ballina man Matt Hawkins will take another step towards his goal of refereeing in the NRL’s top grade when he controls the Under-20 trial match between the Gold Coast Titans and New Zealand Warriors at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on Saturday night.

Hawkins, 25, has come a long way since he began refereeing in the Group One junior competition in 1999.

He has controlled a Schoolboys Test match between Australian Emerging States and the British Amateur Rugby League Association, he officiated in the SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions in 2007, and last season was graded into the NSW Rugby League Premier Squad.

Hawkins says he is keen to promote the fact that young referees from country areas can progress to the top in the NRL’s refereeing ranks, although he is quick to point out that he hasn’t made it to the top just yet.
“I’ve only made it half-way,” he said.

However, he’s determined to make it into the top grade. “My goals for this year are to establish myself in both the NSW Cup and Toyota Cup competitions and keep working towards achieving a contract with the NRL,” Hawkins said.

After refereeing in the Group One first grade competition in 2001 at age 17, Hawkins was selected in the Country Rugby League Referees Development Squad.

He moved to Sydney in 2002 and studied law, and now works in human resources.

A typical week involves controlling a weekend match, a video review session of his performance on Monday night, and skills and drills sessions and physical training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Hawkins will join first-grade refere Jared Maxwell and Adam Devcich in passing on their knowledge to local referees at a junior refs’ clinic at Oakes Oval on Saturday morning from 11.30.

Hawkins says his allocation of tonight’s Under-20s curtain-raiser has been done in conjunction with the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League referees ‘as an example to young referees up there that you can progress through’ to the top in NRL refereeing.

He’s hoping that as well as having local refs watching his performance tonight that there’s two other supporters in the crowd — his father Gary ‘Hawkeye’ Hawkins, a former Ballina Seagulls player, and mum Janelle.

Matt Hawkins’ refereeing career:
1998: Did referees course and began refereeing.
1999: Refereed Under-16s and below age groups. Ran lines in the senior competitions.
2000: Refereed reserve grade and Under-18s.
2001: Refereed first grade at age 17, selected in CRL Referees Development squad, refereed Under-18s major semi-final.
2002: Moved to Sydney to study law, joined Balmain RLRA Referees Association.
2003: Selected in NSWRL Referees Development squad, refereed NSW Under-17s Possibles v Probables.
2004: Refereed in SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions, did Australian Open Schoolboys final between NSW CHS and Queensland, did Schoolboys Test Match between Australian Emerging States and British Amateur Rugby League Association.
2005: Refereed in SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions (including quarter and semi-finals), refereed Tertiary World Cup, finished as No 1 referee in Balmain Referees Association.
2006: Refereed in SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions (including quarter and semi-finals).
2007: Officiated in SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions (including quarter-finals).
2008: Graded into the NSWRL Premier Squad. Refereed Jim Beam Cup in the middle and did touchlines for NSW Cup and Toyota Cup.

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