Former international rugby league star Sean Hoppe hopes more people will join him on the pitches of Bundaberg as a referee.
Former international rugby league star Sean Hoppe hopes more people will join him on the pitches of Bundaberg as a referee. RON BURGIN

Hoppe calling for more refs

One game with the whistle gave former international Sean Hoppe a respect for referees he never believed was possible after more than 250 games of professional rugby league.

“It’s not that I ever disrespected referees,” the former Auckland Warrior said.

“Most of the time you don’t even notice they are out there.”

Last season, on the advice of former ARL referee Rob Alexander, who is serving as the Shalom College deputy principal, Hoppe decided to become a referee in Bundaberg Rugby League.

“I’d been playing touch with Rob for about six years and one day he just asked me if I would be interested in becoming a referee,” Hoppe said.

“I thought ‘how easy would that be?’

“But boy, was it hard.

“Not the physical side of it, more the decision making. You have to be so alert.”

It was an experience Hoppe would not take back, even though he copped a ribbing from the crowd.

“By the end of the season a lot of the players wanted me to ref their games,” he said.

“It’s a great feeling you get from it and it’s really helping the game.”

That is why Hoppe will be at the Bundaberg Referee Association sign-on next Wednesday, encouraging more players and fans to get involved in officiating.

Bundaberg Referee Association president Rod Christensen said he would be targeting former players like Hoppe to take up refereeing.

“They have a better grasp on the game. They already have that initial understanding,” he said.

However, like any year, the referees are glad to receive any help they can get.

“We have between 20 and 30 referees at the moment but 60 per cent of them are doing juniors,” Christensen said.

“Hopefully we can get some people who want to referee seniors and have the ability to do that.”

Anyone interested in attending the sign-on can go to the Bundaberg Rugby League offices at Salter Oval at 5.30pm Wednesday.



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