Young ea­gles swoop on ref­eree mo­ment

Central Leader - - NEWS - By CA­TRIN OWEN

Two One­hunga broth­ers are the envy of their team mates af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what it’s like to make the big calls on the rugby league field.

James, 10, and Dy­lan Mait­land, 9, won the AA In­sur­ance NRL Ref­eree ex­pe­ri­ence com­pe­ti­tion which gave them exclusive ac­cess into the life of a ref­eree.

Jimmy Mait­land, the boys’ fa­ther, en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion be­cause they are all big NRL fans.

‘‘I only en­tered for James as that was the com­pe­ti­tion, when we got the email say­ing we’d won I rang them up ask­ing if I could buy an­other ticket for my youngest and they said they’d work some­thing out.

‘‘They came back


an ar­range­ment for both boys which was bet­ter than we could have imag­ined,’’ he says.

The com­pe­ti­tion was de­signed to show kids the im­por­tance of a ref­eree’s role in en­sur­ing a game is man­aged fairly.

The Monte Ce­cilia School pupils were given the full ex­pe­ri­ence at the War­riors v Pan­thers game at Mt Smart Sta­dium on June 29.

They were given a be­hind-thescenes tour of the sta­dium, see­ing the video ref­eree box, meet­ing the NRL ref­er­ees and were even given an ear­piece to hear the of­fi­cial ref­eree calls through­out the game.

Rugby league is in the boys’ blood.

They were taken along to their first game as ba­bies.

James has hopes of one day be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional player and ac­cord­ing to their fa­ther, Dy­lan could well be a ref­eree.

‘‘When­ever Dy­lan is watch­ing the match, he is call­ing out the rules, and who has and hasn’t got a penalty.

‘‘He could be a ref­eree of the fu­ture.’’

Both boys play for the Eller­slie Ea­gles where most of their team mates are feel­ing slightly jeal­ous.

Even though the fam­ily sup­port the Bull­dogs they are also avid War­riors fans.

Mait­land says they re­ally en­joyed meet­ing the ref­er­ees and War­riors play­ers Manu Vatu­vei and Kon­rad Hur­rell.

‘‘It was an ex­cel­lent day and such a cool ex­pe­ri­ence for both the boys and my­self, ’’ Mait­land says.

Game ready: James and Dy­lan Mait­land with the of­fi­cial ref­er­ees and touch judges for the War­riors v Pan­thers game. From left, Nick Beashel, Ger­ard Sut­ton, Adam Dev­cich and Ricky Mac­Far­lane.

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