Makdessi and McCarthy Receive High Honours At Referees Presentation

NRL WA General Manager John Sackson addresses the referees and guests at the Presentation

We take referees for granted most of the time.

They do a poor job and everyone is all over them. Miss a call, and the crowd goes wild. End up in the wrong position slightly and get an obstructed view and people can be relentless. The officials don’t drop the ball. They don’t put in poor kicks and never miss tackles in the defensive line either.

And what is even funnier, is when they do a great job, its usually to no applause. No plaudits. That’s for players. Its considered a gimme that the referee just get it right. All the time. But they are human. Officiating is hard. But it is also very rewarding. And a great honour to be a referee and give back to the game we all love.

On the weekend the Referees presentation took place at George Burnett Park, Karawarra, the home of the South Perth Lions, and it recognised both our Junior and Senior referees from the 2023 season.

                   WARLRA Secretary & Coordinator Sam McCarthy & Bennett Sarader

Firstly, Our Junior Referee Coaches Awards of the year for 2023 was split once again. Young Bennett Sarader and Hannah Cole were both recognised as having some great contributions to the referees. Hopefully they both stay involved in the game as Sam McCarthy spoke glowing about both of their growth in the game

Life Member Liam Noonan & Logan Robles

Next was the Most Improved Junior referee. And young Logan Robles was a happy recipient. Turning into a real referee family, the Robles clan are just another of our great refereeing groups coming through and sustaining our number of referees. Culminating in his first appointment as the GLT Grand Final referee, Logan was professional and always kept a very high standard through the season.

WARLRA Life Member John Moore & Rihare Te Rauna

Our Junior Referee of the Year was next, and as in a lot of cases with our referees, it was someone who is also a great player. Young Te Rauna has the makings of both a great player and referee, and everyone wants to seem him do well in both areas. On the trophy is a long line of great young referees who have referees senior grades here in WA or moved onto other competitions, with names suck as Brock Midson and Cullen Devene high on the list in recent years.

NRL WA Operations Manager Caleb Reedy & Ewan Maggio

We then moved into our senior referee awards next, and the Best 1st Year Senior was the next award. In a funny twist, the presenter and recipient handed over/received awards from the same person last year, but just a different award. Ewan Maggio, who was awarded the most improved junior referee in 2022, went a step further in 2023, and was awarded the “Best 1st Year Senior Referee” for his great performances stepping up to the senior grades. A great prospect, who is from a strong officiating family, he continues to go from strength to strength.

While he could not be in attendance, Nathan Benn was honoured as the most improved senior referee. Nathan over the last couple of years has transformed from a mainly 3rd grade referee to officiating some Premiership games, along with being a first choice Val Murphy referee and is looking for greater honours in the future.

 Ben Solomon and ARLC WA Chairman Bob Cronin

Ben Solomon was awarded the Ken Allen shield for his appointment and refereeing of the FTG&P Premiership Grand Final in 2023. An amazing contest, which again reached overtime, his performance was lauded by all sides for allowing the game to flow. A very experienced referee, he implored the junior referees to stay with it and keep being involved in the game.

Although Russell Ferguson was absent, he received the Golden Whistle, which is an award the referees give each year, as a way to lighten the mood, in the face of some serious jobs. Some nominees included a referee who fell asleep on the train and left his whistle there. Another who forgot one boot. Not both. And another referee who went out on the field in his polo shirt before realizing partway through the contest. 

                           Life Member Liam Noonan & Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence was awarded the Referee’s Referee award. Akin to Clubman of the year, and the players player trophies all rolled into one, it is a high honour which is voted on by the fellow referees, and given to someone who is recognised for everything they give to their fellow officials. Stepping into the thankless and tough job of Treasurer, Paul continues to referee and coach every single weekend, giving up countless hours to the association.


                           Life Member Jeff Wenman and Inducted Life Member Joe Makdessi

Mr Joe Makdessi was awarded one of the highest honours in community sport, when we was granted Life Membership of the WARLRA after over two decades of dedicated service. A naturally shy man, he spoke glowingly of officiating as a major part of his life, and spoke about his life long friends that have come from the refereeing ranks. 

Sam McCarthy & NRL WA General Manager John Sackson

And last but not least, tireless secretary, coach and coordinator Sam McCarthy was awarded the Ron Hudson Medallist for the Referees Associationin 2023. Essentially the referees MVP for the year, Sam has worked tirelessly for years as the main link between the league, the clubs, the referees and their parents in what is a very tough and challenging role. And it is one he does without fuss and loves to achieve.

While the year is not over, with the Harmony Cup looming large for our referees, this awards ceremony caps off a momentous year for 2023. They are a great group, and if you want to be a part of it please do not hesitate to reach out.

Make the call and become a referee as soon as possible.

Anyone looking for any information can email Caleb Reedy on

NRL WA thanks all the referees, officials, management and their families for such an incredible year, and we look forward to seeing you again next season!