THE REF: Hervey Bay oztag  referee Ben Ryan is  making a name for  himself as a  referee.
THE REF: Hervey Bay oztag referee Ben Ryan is making a name for himself as a referee. Matthew McInerney

OZTAG: Ben eyes top spot at Big 4 September challenge

BEN Ryan had not played oztag five years ago.

Today, he is one of Queensland's leading referees.

The transition of participant, to rep player, then finally into one the most-pressured roles in any sport was an easy one for Ryan to make.

"I was just playing local comps and took up refereeing, it helps you get a better understanding for the game and I enjoy it," he said.

That better understanding has opened doors he probably could not have imagined half a decade ago.

He has refereed at some of Queensland Oztag's biggest events and officiated multiple matches at junior and senior national competitions.

The 25-year-old's most recent trip was to New Zealand for their nationals tournament.

"I went to Coffs Harbour the junior and seniors nationals tournament in October and November," he said.

"The Australian Referees Co-ordinator was there and was able to see how I refereed, and then I got an invitation to New Zealand.

"I was stoked about it, I've worked hard with my refereeing, and for that to happen I was very happy.

"It's an experience and a privilege to referee those tournaments."

Ryan must have done a good job across the ditch, as he has since been invited to officiate at the inaugural Big 4 Challenge from September 1-3,.

Australia, Indigenous Australia, Lebanon and the Pacific Islands will compete at the competition, with Ryan granted the best vantage point in the house.

The Big 4 Challenge was originally scheduled to held in Sydney on March 3-5 but was postponed to the heavy rain.

His goals don't end at the Big 4 Challenge, with Trans-Tasman series and next year's World Cup well in his sights.



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