Hicks, Kendall and Moore in driving seat for World Cup

Three Super League referees have joined International Rugby League’s elite match officials panel, from whom the match officials for this year’s World Cup will be selected.

Robert Hicks, Chris Kendall and Liam Moore have all been accepted into the squad ahead of the 2021 season.

The IRL has introduced a squad system as part of its Match Officials programme in 2020. Referees can be nominated for one of three squads by their national associations and the IRL will then decide whether they should be appointed to the Elite International Panel, where members will referee the top tier of games, or the International panel, where members will referee games below the top tier, or the Emerging Panel, where members from emerging nations will be appointed to referee games between emerging nations.

The elite panel will be made up of eight referees, with no one country being able to have more than three referees on the panel. There are currently seven elite referees on the panel. The remaining referee will be selected to the panel once nominations have been received from the other countries.

The seven referees currently on the panel are: Grant Atkins (Australia), Robert Hicks (England), Chris Kendall (England), Ashley Klein (Australia), Liam Moore (England), Henry Perenara (New Zealand) and Gerard Sutton (Australia).

Stuart Cummings, the IRL’s manager of match officials, said: “The inclusion of the RFL’s nominated referees for the elite international squad further strengthens the depth and experience available ahead of a high-profile year for International Rugby League.

“The referees will benefit from the experiences of other referees in the squad as well as providing valuable input themselves, so that the squad develops and is ready for the start of the Rugby League World Cup in October.”

The three Super League referees who have joined the elite panel are delighted to have been selected in a World Cup year.

Robert Hicks, 39, said: “I am obviously delighted to have been selected for the inaugural elite panel and grateful to those that have nominated me. It is a great reward for the countless hours put in throughout the last few seasons. International Rugby League is the pinnacle and to be selected for this panel in World Cup year is exceptionally exciting.

Chris Kendall, 28, who refereed the 2020 Super League Grand Final, added, “To referee at International level is the pinnacle of any match official’s career, so I am honoured to be appointed to the elite squad. With the 2021 World Cup just around the corner, the prospect of refereeing a home World Cup is really exciting, especially given the challenging times we are all currently facing”.

Liam Moore, 25, who made history by becoming the youngest referee to be in charge of a Challenge Cup Final in 2020, also celebrated his appointment, saying, “It is an honour to be appointed to the elite international referees squad. The international game is the pinnacle, and it is a privilege to be a member of this squad. I am excited by the growth of the International game and looking forward to working with the other officials.”

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