Belinda Sleeman has been appointed as a touch judge for Saturday's World Cup game in Townsville between Fiji and the USA.
Belinda Sleeman has been appointed as a touch judge for Saturday's World Cup game in Townsville between Fiji and the USA. DAVID ROWLAND

Rocky woman to make sporting history in Townsville

RUGBY LEAGUE: Rockhampton's Belinda Sleeman will etch her name in sport's history books this weekend.

She will become the first female to officiate at a Rugby League World Cup, appointed as a touch judge for Saturday's game in Townsville between Fiji and the USA.

Sleeman is one of 26 officials who have been drawn from the NRL and Super League competitions.

They will act as the tournament's 15th team and, like the players representing each of the 14 nations, they will go into camp together in Brisbane for the duration of RLWC2017.

They will have their own performance manager, a physiotherapist, a logistics and operations manager and three coaches - Steve Ganson from England, Australia's Russell Smith and New Zealand's Luke Watts - working under head of officiating Tony Archer.

There will be some key differences during the World Cup to the way NRL matches are officiated, with RLWC2017 games controlled by one referee - not two - and an in-goal video referral system replacing the Bunker for checking contentious decisions.

There will also be no shot clock for scrums and goal lines dropouts but common rules used in Super League and the NRL will be in operation, including a seventh tackle from the 20m re-start if the ball is kicked dead and a tap re-start from a 40:20 kick.

Golden point will only be used in finals matches.



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