Just weeks after local touch football referee Ryan Wake became the first Goulburn resident to achieve his Level Six badge, he was selected to officiate this year's State of Origin
Named by Touch NSW as one of its 20 referees for the tournament, Wake earned his place off the back of a strong National Touch League performance in March.
"Judging from my performance at NTL, I had an idea [that I would be selected], but I wasn't sure," Wake said.
"I felt like I'd done everything I could, and it ended up paying off."
This will be Wake's first State of Origin series, and the tournament is one of the goals he had eyed off following his promotion to Level Six.
"It's one of the biggest tournaments in the country," he said.
"It's pretty exciting ... this was one of my goals, especially this year. and I wasn't 100 per cent sure I'd be able to achieve it."
A good performance in the State of Origin, which is slated for June in Coffs Harbour, could see the 19-year-old put himself in contention for a possible international opportunity.
"International selection is all about your performances at tournaments. It ranges from a number of tournaments to get picked for an invitational tournament," Wake said.
"You've got to do so many tournaments to get selected, I think it's three or four to get selected for NTLs, and then you've got to do NTLs to get selected for any of the national tournaments."
As Wake keeps himself busy throughout the year with various refereeing commitments, he does not expect physical fitness to be an issue in the State of Origin.
He is, however, doing the work to ensure that he is mentally prepared to take on the biggest opportunity of his burgeoning career.
"The physical side comes into it a little bit, but it's a lot about mental," Wake said.
"Refereeing's more mental than physical, if you're mentally ready for a tournament, you're pretty much ready to go. We speak about that a lot in our Zoom meetings and tournaments beforehand.
"Mental preparation is key, and then comes physical preparation."
Wake does not have any specific mental exercises to ready himself for a big tournament. Instead, he prefers to keep his mind off the event and focus his attention on day-to-day life until he steps on to the field.
While aiming to do as well as he can performance-wise, Wake also hopes to absorb everything he can from the State of Origin and some of the more senior referees who will be in attendance.
"Every tournament we go to is about having fun and learning," he said.
"It'll just be like a normal tournament but a little bit more intense and a little bit harder.
"We [referees] talk all the time about touch footy and anything that comes to mind. We normally pick their brains a heap."
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.