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Queensland Rugby League is pleased to confirm the appointment of record-breaking referee Clayton Sharpe as state match officials manager.

Sharpe, who became the first referee to officiate four-straight Cup grand finals, will commence the role in the new year following Paul Stephenson’s decision to take up a new opportunity with the Gold Coast Titans.

Gladstone product Sharpe is one of Queensland’s most experienced and successful former referees, having stood in the middle in five Cup grand finals.

He created history in 2015 when he was appointed to the premiership decider between the Ipswich Jets and the Townsville Blackhawks.

That match was his fifth Cup grand final, and followed a string of appointments (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014) in the showpiece match of Queensland’s premier statewide competition.

As the state match officials manager, Sharpe will be responsible for providing exceptional leadership and fostering a success-oriented culture of accountability, skills that he has developed in his professional career post officiating in leading teams across large organisations.

Working as part of the community rugby league and competitions team, and in consultation with the senior pathways and performance manager, he will assist in developing an annual statewide match officials strategy designed to increase the number of Queensland referees in the NRL and NRLW.

Sharpe brings a wealth of experience to the role, having controlled 201 Cup games – more than any other state league official.

He refereed his first Cup game in 2004 after learning his craft as a teenager in regional Queensland, where he officiated in the Central Queensland extended league and other community competitions.