Tim Mander has confirmed his status as the game's new number one referee, today being appointed whistle blower for the season opening clash between defending premiers Penrith and the Newcastle Knights on Friday night.
Mander will most likely become immediate favourite to referee this year's State of Origin series as well as big matches later in the year, including the grand final.
His newly found status follows the retirement of veteran referee Bill Harrigan at the end of last season.
Steve Lyons has been appointed referee for Saturday's Wests Tigers v Sharks clash, while Steve Clark will be in charge of the Bulldogs clash with Parramatta.
Tony Archer finds himself back in the top grade, in charge of Saturday night's clash between North Queensland and Manly.
Paul Simpkins will control Sunday's match between St George-Illawarra and Canberra while Shayne Hayne will referee the match between Souths and the Roosters.
Sean Hampstead will be in charge of the match between Brisbane and the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.