Belinda Sleeman.
Belinda Sleeman. Sam Ruttyn

Belinda has right qualities to referee in NRL



IPSWICH is back in the news for a story that has created some fine history.

Referee Belinda Sleeman, who honed her craft in the Ipswich competition before moving on to bigger things, has been appointed to a centre referees position, a first for a female in the National Rugby League.

Sleeman doesn't take short cuts and the hard work that she has put in over the many years of refereeing is now starting to bear fruit.

After becoming the first female to touch judge in the NRL, she will now be the first to referee in the centre when she blows the whistle in the Broncos trial this weekend.

Sleeman has been on cloud 9 in recent months after marrying long-time partner Clayton Sharpe, a man that has refereed at the top level.

Let's hope Belinda has a great game this weekend and we see her name more when the season proper starts next month.

RLI season insights

GOODNA: Why they can win this year - They have the nucleus of last year's team who will be super keen to show that 2018 is dead and buried. Reports of some big signings will add to their depth. First year coach Corey Kirk is a club legend who will have no problems getting the players' minds on the job.

Why they can't win: The major disappointment of season 2018 might still linger. Goodna has the forwards to power ahead but have they got the backs to capitalise on the go forward? The Eagles must find a way to win more away games.

My thoughts: Goodna will be one of the main contenders for this year's title. Coach Kirk will have some quality players and must come up with a game plan that will get full results. Early season form will go a long way to how their season will unfold. Goodna must stay disciplined.

WEST END: Why they can win - The Bulldogs have a youthful team again and have acquired several quality players from Brisbane clubs. They will be fit after a good-pre season where the numbers have been the best for a long time. Coach Jae Woodward is expecting his side to stay in the game for a much longer period, which will enable them to be in a winning position towards the end of games.

Why they can't win: Depth has always been the Bulldogs problem. They also don't have the biggest forward pack (bigger this year) but do have a lot of tireless workers. Last year they just couldn't play for 80 minutes, which is a big problem. Have they got someone to settle the ship when the going gets tough this year?

My thoughts: The Bulldogs will have a more rounded side than last year. The numbers during pre-season have been very encouraging but they must take the quality training into the season. If they can stay injury free, a top four spot is not out of the question.

Quick thoughts

HERO of the week: Liam Paro after his defeat of Italian champion Massimiliano Ballisai. He had to dig deep after breaking both his hands in the fight. He has now risen to number four contender for the Junior Welterweight title.

Villain of the week: Bronco Payne Haas has the world at his big feet. Let's hope his indiscretion sounds a big warning to him.

DID you know? 1. The NBA was formed on August 5, 1976.

2. The record for the longest suspension is held by Pistons Ron Artest, a staggering 73 games, plus 13 play-off games.

Big news: The RLI grand final is back on a Sunday. Mark down Sunday, September 15.

Bomber's best: The streak lasts another week with both the Kings and Bullets winning.

This week, I am tipping the Brisbane Roar to put last week's disappointment behind them to defeat Central Coast Mariners.

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