Heap reaps touch re­wards


Fresh off be­ing named na­tional touch ref­eree of the year, Richie Heap has been named to con­trol up­com­ing in­ter­na­tional matches in Aus­tralia.

The 41-year-old Queen­stown real es­tate agent will take charge of games between New Zealand and Aus­tralia in the an­nual Open Trans-Tas­man Test Se­ries in Kawana, Queens­land in May.

It’s the sec­ond time Heap - South­land’s top ref­eree and in the top four ref­er­ees in New Zealand - has been se­lected to con­trol the ‘‘big boys’’ af­ter stints ref­er­ee­ing youth in­ter­na­tion­als.

Heap was look­ing for­ward to it. ‘‘They are two lead­ing coun­tries in the world.

‘‘They [play­ers] are machines. ‘‘A lot of the league and rugby clubs will come over to pick up tal­ented play­ers.’’

That’s where New Zealand War­riors star Shaun John­son was found, Heap said.

The three day event fea­tured one test a day and he hoped to be in­volved in all.

Along with Heap, Thames Val­ley’s Miah Wil­liamson, Marl­bor­ough’s Cameron MacDon­aldPed­er­son and Bay of Plenty’s Ge­orge Haswell gained selec­tion. They would join five Aus­tralian ref­er­ees at the tour­na­ment.

Ref­er­ee­ing un­der the Touch South­land ban­ner, Heap only started ref­er­ee­ing eight years ago, and is part of the tier-1 elite squad.

He is ranked in the top nine ref­er­ees in the world.

Touch New Zealand ref­eree Richie Heap, of Queen­stown.

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