That’s the advice from New Zealand-based Rochelle Tamarua, who will be officiating in her third Cook Islands Rugby League Association Bluesky Club Nines tournament, starting today at the BCI Stadium in Nikao.
Cook Islander Tamarua is accompanied by fellow referee Joseph Green from Auckland and they are looking forward to the experience in the third the annual tournament, which ends tomorrow.
Tamarua said the standard of the tournament since its inception in 2016 had improved and she expects another tough battle for the $5000 top prizemoney.
Seven clubs will battle it out in the two-day tournament, including first timers Queensland Kukis from Brisbane, Australia.
The other teams competing in the tournament this weekend are defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels, Arorangi Bears, Titikaveka Bulldogs, Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles, Tupapa Panthers and TKV Warriors.
“The past two years have been strong in regards to the standard of footy played here in the Cook Islands and with the help of imports from Australia and New Zealand, it has surely lifted the game to another level,” Tamarua said.
“The inclusion of Queensland Kukis will surely lift the game this year. They will be a big change in the game. I guess their inclusion will be a motivation for our young ones here playing for their local teams.
“It will also be an opportunity for the local clubs to learn from the experience and the skills that this Queensland team will provide during this tournament.”
After officiating in the past two CIRLA Nines tournaments, Tamarua said that she had experienced no major discipline issues among the local clubs.
“I guess when I arrived here in previous years to referee in this tournament, they (clubs) knew a little bit of my background coming from NRL U20s and that I would have certain knowledge to help adjudicate those games. So they were cooperative and just helped with playing the game,” she said.
“As I said before the grand final (last year), players need to focus on the basics, their tackles and defence, and everything else will fall into play. Just let the referees ref.”
First-timer Green, who took up refereeing about three years ago, is excited with his first tournament out of New Zealand.
He said Tamarua had shared her CIRLA Nines experience and he was looking forward to his experience in this event.
“She (Tamarua) told me about the tournament and what her experience was like and sort of invited me to come and be a part of it,” Green said.
“She told me that footy is of quite a high standard here and obviously I will go with an open mind, expecting quite fast-paced games.
“I have done quite a few national finals in the past three years back in Auckland. I have been a part of some junior international Tests and lucky enough to be involved in the NRL U20s as well.”
Both referees wished the participating teams the best in their campaign this weekend.
The main matches in the CIRLA Nines tournament start at 12.30pm today.