History is made this weekend when Queensland's own Belinda Sleeman becomes the first woman to officiate an NRL match.
However, NRL referees manager Tony Archer said Sleeman's breakthrough was only
Archer predicted to The Courier-Mail that the NRL will have a female whistle blower regularly controlling games within a few years.
Sleeman will run the touch line during Wests Tigers clash with Cronulla on Saturday afternoon.
The 27-year-old has been refereeing since her late teens in Rockhampton when her desperation to be part of rugby league saw her pick up a whistle.
A decade later and following stints in Ipswich Rugby League, the Intrust Super Cup and the National Youth Competition, Sleeman has broken down a barrier that once seemed implausible in the macho culture of league.
The former sport journalist who is now a page designer at The Courier-Mail is adamant her history making debut required as much hard work as any young referee.
"I don't feel I have had to jump through more hoops or breakdown barriers to get an opportunity — we all train hard and we all put in the same amount of work to reach this level," Sleeman said.
"I can understand why it's a talking point for the public — being the first female in first grade — but for me, it's a goal that I've been working towards.
"Yes, I'm definitely excited about the game, but my focus is on doing the job.
"Twelve months ago, first grade seemed a long way away, but running the line in the Holden Cup finals last year made it seem within reach."
Archer said Sleeman had the ability to control NRL games as the main referee, joining the likes of Shayne Hayne and Matt Cecchin.
"I don't think there is any doubt we will see a female referee control an NRL match in the coming years," Archer said.
"This is a great breakthrough, the first woman ever to officiate in a first grade NRL match. Most importantly, the appointment is based on merit.
"She is an outstanding talent and has forced her way into NRL through her performance in the Holden Cup this season as both a referee or touch judge
"Now that Belinda has broken into the ranks, I hope others will follow.
"There are a lot of talented females officials coming through the ranks especially with the introduction of the NRL Women in League Officials Program so there will be more opportunities for female officials in the future.
"Belinda came up through the ranks in Rockhampton and then moved to Brisbane to further her career.
"Her hard work, dedication, resilience and ability are the reasons she is she is in the NRL
"She has what it takes to reach the top."