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Kasey Badger ready to boss the best as World Cup’s first female ref

KASEY Badger is ready to make history – and deal with confrontational men.

The Australian tonight becomes the first female referee to take charge of a World Cup game as Tonga look to seal a quarter final spot against Wales.

Kasey Badger will make history tonight by refereeing Tonga v Wales

Outbursts towards officials, like those seen in football, are rare in rugby league but should a player come growling, this woman is ready for them.

Kasey said: “Players being confrontational to me isn’t something that scares me or is off-putting.

“Giving a tongue-lashing isn’t my style but I’ve got my methods to control players. I’ve other tools in my kitbag I can use to handle those situations.

“It’s a case-by-case thing but from personal experience I’ve found at the elite level, male players can react better to me.

“But that’s also a skillset I’ve had to build over a number of years. At the lower levels I did feel it was easier for me to be targeted being a female.

“It may be a bit of both – they react better to me because I’m a woman but also because of my skillset I’ve been forced to develop having been through hard times as a female in such a male-dominated environment.”

Kasey has been a ‘pocket ref’ in the NRL when it operated with two officials and has taken charge of reserve grade New South Wales Cup games this year.

But the magnitude of this appointment – and the impact it can have – has not passed her by.

It has also meant a round-the-world dash for husband Gavin as the former ref has flown from Down Under to watch his wife make history.

Kasey added: “Gavin was the first person I rang. It was nearly midnight in Australia, so I messaged him asking, ‘Are you still awake?’

Kasey has been a touch judge at men’s matches, along with other women

“He thought it was the best thing he’d ever heard and said straight away, ‘I’m coming over.’ He was straight on the phone looking at flights. He landed yesterday but it’ll be special to have him at the ground, He reckons he’ll be that excited he won’t be tired.

“Any time something like this comes along, you carry with it the sense of taking the game forward. In this case, the sense of officiating for females.

“Hopefully this will boost the interest of people joining the refereeing ranks, specifically women. This shows there are genuine opportunities for women to progress to the world stage.

“Young girls could see this and think, ‘I want to give that a crack.’

Tonga defeated Papua New Guinea in their first match

“It’s not something I expected. I was thinking maybe I’d be a touch judge in the men’s competition and referee in the women’s.

“To get that opportunity is a great feeling. When I was told, my eyes opened up so wide. It was almost like the crowd parted in front of me and Steve Ganson and Jared Maxwell saw my face go, ‘Wow.’

“I’ve always had complete faith in my ability but to be able to show what I can do at such a big occasion is something I’m really grateful for.”

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