COMMITMENT, determination and talent could well see Hunter Valley Group 21 referee Joey Butler officiating in the NRL one day.
And, an appointment at the upcoming 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup (WRLWC) should help his cause.
The 22-year-old Singleton lad, who oversaw the Muswellbrook Rams and Aberdeen Tigers first grade decider two months ago, will join six fellow whistle-blowers from Australia, New Zealand and Wales at the historic tournament.
“I was pretty surprised – they only picked seven refs from around the world,” Butler said.
“But, it’s a big honour and I’m stoked.
“I’ve put in a fair bit of effort this year, so the hard work’s paid off.
“I can’t wait for the WRLWC.
“We go into camp on Wednesday and, I’ll admit, I’m a tad nervous.
“There will be a lot of pressure on us to perform well.
“So, I’ve been training ever since I found out – they’re expecting hot conditions, with all games at Shark Park in Sydney and the main match at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
“It’ll be a big learning curve, however I want to officiate the grand final [on December 2].”
The WRLWC caps off a massive 12-month period for Butler, who also refereed at the National Under-18 Championships in July.
“2017 has been the best year I’ve had to date,” he said.
“I made my Holden Cup debut at Leichhardt Oval – the Wests Tigers v New Zealand Warriors – in September, the day after the Group 21 finale.
“I was then on standby, as a touch judge, for the NRL.
“I also ran the lines [in Holden Cup] on seven occasions throughout the season.
“I’ve got aspirations to be in the NRL full-time – and the WRLWC is a great stepping stone.
“A lot of my friends have said I might never get an opportunity like this again, so I’m taking it with both hands.
“Hopefully, I’ll go okay.”
The modest Butler admits he owes the Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League Referees' Association “everything”.
“Matt Edwards, Rod Bowd and Angus Whalley have been fantastic mentors,” he said.
“As a referee, you don’t have many friends, but the other guys in the association have been very supportive.
“I often tell people I only became a referee because I had too many friends – I had to lose some,” he added with a laugh.
“My parents deserve plenty of thanks, as well as my employers Farmers Warehouse (for their understanding towards time off) and fitness trainer Mark 'Mirrors' Bercini.”
The Australian Jillaroos, featuring former Muswellbrook Public School student Caitlin Moran, kicks off its campaign against Cook Islands on November 16.