Five years ago Hamish Biddle picked up the phone to former New England Rugby Union referee Peter Haynes and said 'do you need someone to run a line for you?' Little did Biddle know that question would set him on a path to becoming one of the top young referees in NSW. "Since then I haven't looked back, I have always loved it," Biddle said. He picked up up the NSW Rugby Union Young Referee of the Year award for New England last year and went one better this year and collected the gong for the Zone's top referee this year after a big year with the whistle. The 20-year-old stepped up to a regular role in the centre in the Zone's first grade fixtures for 2023, and even landed the centre referee appointment for the grand final. "I knew how it would be but the transition process [into first grade] was different but I had really good coaching from Rachel Horton and Kath Little and they supported me immensely through it," Biddle said. "I kept improving each week, definitely learning a lot more each game. "It has been a really good transition to help me, when I have gone to my representative appointments, to deal with the older men as well. "To finish it off with the first grade final and get referee of the year, that was the cherry on top of the cake." Those representative appointments came in the form of a call up to officiate at the Australian Rugby Shield in Brisbane as well as refereeing first grade in Newcastle, Colts in Sydney sidelines in the Shute Shield competition. The Australian Rugby Shield is one of the top competitions in the country with teams from all over taking part Biddle admitted he was "a bit speechless" when he found out he got the call up. "I was a bit nervous leading up into it but when I got there the nerves when I blew the first whistle and it felt like any other game," he said. "I was lucky enough to get one of the finals and I was happy with my performance." Biddle said the tournament in Brisbane was another stellar opportunity for further development. "The coaching you get from there is really good too," he said. "It was good to be on the spectrum of a professional level. "On our days off, even though it is a day off, we are still analysing our game for the next one and looking to improve each game." It was also one step closer to his "goal" of making refereeing into his full-time career. Biddle is hopeful of landing more appointments in Sydney and even the 2027 Rugby World Cup. "The next world cup in Australia would be nice but I think there's a lot to do before then," he said. "But anything could happen in four years. "Hopefully I can go back to the Australian Rugby Shield next year, or even something better."