You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Belinda Sharpe and Kasey Badger are confident more than 15 years of experience in match officiating will hold them in good stead as they prepare to make more history in the NRL on Friday.

The pair will take another step towards their dream of controlling an NRL Telstra Premiership match when they each officiate from the middle in Friday night's respective pre-season trial matches at Leichhardt Oval. 

Badger will referee the Roosters-Raiders fixture while Sharpe will officiate the match between Wests Tigers and Sea Eagles in a history-making occasion for the women, who continue to break ground in the referees' ranks.

"It's an important step in not only their career but for the game in general," NRL general manager of elite officiating, Jared Maxwell, said.

"We can use the role model aspect as much as we want but the component around having female officials at the elite level of rugby league is clear.

"The pathway presents itself and this Friday is a wonderful opportunity for not only the two individuals but our game to showcase that pathway."

Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson congratulates Belinda Sharpe following her maiden game under the two-referee system in 2019.
Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson congratulates Belinda Sharpe following her maiden game under the two-referee system in 2019. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

Sharpe has spent time in the middle previously under the two-referee system but has never controlled a match on her own at the NRL or trial level.

She was the first woman to officiate an NRL match when she was selected as a touch judge in 2014.

Badger followed soon after in 2015 and has been a constant in previous years as a touch judge.

The pair became full-time referees in 2019 with Badger believing the past three years' experience will be essential for taking the next step on Friday.

Kasey Badger will referee the Roosters-Raiders trial on Friday.
Kasey Badger will referee the Roosters-Raiders trial on Friday. ©NRL Photos

"I have absolute confidence in my ability," Badger said.

"We train full-time and have been in the part-time capacity since 2014.

"My body is feeling good and we compare ourselves in training sessions to the guys currently refereeing in the middle.

"Comparing myself in that capacity I have absolute confidence. This has not been a short career for us."

Sharpe added she had never been more prepared to handle the external pressure that comes with being a lead match official.

"What's important is experience and with experience comes the ability to handle high-pressure situations," she said.

"It's a high-pressure environment. There's a lot of scrutiny at this level of the game.

"We do so much training and hard work throughout the week, particularly across the off-season, to ensure we're physically prepared for this level.

"The pressure might come externally but we focus on what we have to do and enjoy that. We see it as an opportunity. 

"We're just grateful for the opportunity and the chance to do what we love on the big stage."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

VIEW ALL PARTNERS