When English fullback Caitlin Beevers turned 12 and couldn't play rugby league in mixed teams any more, she decided to become a referee because she missed the game so much.

Now as a certified official she has refereed a high school boys grand final at Wembley on Challenge Cup final day. She referees in the third tier – League 1 – in the UK and wants to blow the whistle at Championship and then Super League levels – inspired by Australian referees Belinda Sharpe and Kasey Badger.

"You get a lot of sneers from people so you’ve got to be thick-skinned. But for me I've been doing it for four years and I'm very happy. I'm gradually building and I'm getting promoted this year," Beevers told NRL.com.

"I'm hoping to be touch judge in some Championship games. And Kasey and Belinda have been massive inspirations for us in England, where there are a lot of females wanting to go into officiating.

"Seeing what those two have done in the NRL – in such a big stage – it got massive coverage in England and it was hugely inspiring for me to try to follow in their steps.

"It [refereeing] also helps my playing, knowing all the rules. My teammates are always saying 'Caitlin what's that for?' when we're on the field."

But that's only half of the Beevers story.

Six days ago the Leeds Rhinos fullback won the 2019 Women's Super League grand final with a 20-12 win over Castleford Tigers... on her 18th birthday.

"What a day... it's not something I'll ever forget," she said.

There's been no time for celebrations with Rhinos teammates, even a birthday cake with her family, as Beevers flew to Sydney the next day and is central to England's charge at the World Cup 9s.

She's hardly had time to catch her breath, but Beevers says she's over the jet lag and eager to get into the fast-flowing Nines play.

"I find out it quite easy to get onto Australian time. I'm sleeping like a baby – it's amazing." she told NRL.com.

"But Nines is totally new for us England players. A lot of people say to me this is going to be my game with its more open space."

Already, rugby league has delivered so much to this teenager who started playing at age six, when she grew tired of her parents taking twin brother Joshua to games.

"It was a case of 'What about me?' and they said if I really wanted to I could, so I did and I loved it," she said.

"The game is like a family – you've got them for life. With all the different stages you go through, you've got each other's backs.

"You're with each other three, four, or more days a week. So to spend that amount of time with some of the best people you'll meet is such a nice thing.

"And to be involved in such a big occasion like this world Nines, just puts a cherry on top."

 

For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to nrl.com/tickets.