Top Super League match official Ben Thaler flies out on Wednesday for one of his more exotic appointments.
The Yorkshire-based whistler will travel to Florida to take charge of the ‘Hotels of Jacksonville.com’ Atlantic Cup clash between USA and Jamaica, at the home of the Jacksonville Axemen.
For Thaler, it will be his second trip to the Sunshine State in 2009. “I went for the Leeds against Salford Challenge match pre-season and the Americans really got behind it” he said. “The hits are something totally different for them and they get very excited by it. I am expecting a similar reaction this time, especially as they will be supporting their national side.”
There will be an element of unfamiliarity, with the ‘reggae rugby’ making it’s first appearance at international level.
“I’ve see a little of the Jamaicans, spoken to a couple of their coaches and one or two of their squad are familiar names” he noted. “It should be a really interesting experience for everybody. I’m expecting the Jamaicans to give a good account of themselves, it should be a good contest.”
The profile of the Cup clash is enhanced by the presence of a leading official but he feels it is a two way street and illustrates the opportunities now on offer for aspiring and ambitious match officials.
“It lends certain credibility and helps consolidate the international development work that is moving forward and is so important to the code as a whole” he added.
“Hopefully me being there will add to the occasion but I benefit from the different surroundings, the people and cultures involved and the whole experience. Being out there in that sort of environment is something I am very much looking forward to.”