Liam Rush, who played as a youngster for Shaw Cross Sharks and Batley Boys, has been promoted to the RFL’s panel of full-time referees – just eight years after taking up the whistle.
Explaining how he made the transition from player to referee, Rush recalled: “I started quite early compared to a lot of people.
“There’s a lady called Sue Winner at Batley Boys and she came to us and said ‘there’s a referees’ course, does anybody want to do it’?
“I was one of five or six in our team, including Jack, who said they’d do the course.“We did it and I did both for a while and then didn’t get very far playing so focused on refereeing instead.”
Rush had made rapid progress and already refereed at Wembley, in the Champion Schools competition when he was 17.
“I have been a grade one ref since the start of the 2020 season,” he said.
“That obviously got hampered a bit with Covid.
“I first touch-judged Super League in April, 2018.
“I was 17 at the time, I was one of – if not the – youngest to do that.”
He added: “I’ve refereed in League One, but not the Championship, for various reasons.
“I had a bit of a spell out injured last year, after quite a bad car crash.
“Getting into it then, I would referee every other week, just to get myself into that sort of environment.”
Rush admits he isn’t expecting to referee in the top division this year, despite his full-time status.
He said: “It’d be great if I could, but I see it more as a chance to develop and learn the trade in League One and the Championship, definitely for this year and probably the most part of next year as well.
“Then I’ll look to be knocking on the door as soon as possible.”
Chris Kendall, 29 and 26-year-old Liam Moore are two officials Rush is keen to emulate.
Moore refereed the 2020 and 2021 Challenge Cup finals and this year’s Super League title decider, while Kendall was the Grand Final’s man in the middle in 2019 and 2020.
“They are the ones you look to at the minute, who are doing all the big games,” Rush said.
“It’s also the age they are doing them at, it’s what I look to and where I want to be in a few years’ time.”
Their rugby careers have taken different tracks, but Rush and Broadbent could both be in Super League in the near future.
“I’ve refereed Jack coming through,” Rush said of his former team-mate.
“I refereed him at junior level and I touch judged him last season and the year before.
“It is no different, you switch off from it as soon as you step on the pitch.
“We speak beforehand and after the game, but while it is on he is a player and I am a touch judge and that’s how it is.”