Belinda still buzzing after top level NRL debut

BELINDA Sleeman tried to treat her history-making appearance in the National Rugby League like any other game.

But she said there were some noticeable differences.

"The speed, the physicality and the intensity of the game is certainly different," Sleeman said yesterday.

"It was great to get a feeling for the game at that level.

"It was fast and physical, but really enjoyable. I suppose it was exactly what I was expecting."

The former Rockhampton referee made Australian league history on Saturday, becoming the first female touch judge appointed to an NRL game.

She officiated in the Round 26 match, which the Wests Tigers won 26-10 against the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval.

Sleeman said she had some nerves but she was determined not to let the sense of occasion overwhelm her.

"I tried to go in and treat it as a normal game; forget it was my first game in the NRL," she said.

"I knew I had to do my job, the same as any other game."

And she received positive feedback in the post-match debrief with the game day evaluator. NRL referees manager Tony Archer was also there on game day.

Sleeman is known as a "multi-skiller" and operates as a referee and touch judge in the Holden Cup, the NRL's under-20 competition.

She said the first step to becoming a regular official in first grade "started on the sideline" and that was where her focus was now.

"It was good to get the first one out of the way," she said.



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