SHANE HURNDELL
The fact that Chris Pollock's first few matches as a rugby referee in Hawke's Bay have been incident free indicate he must be pretty good.
You know the story. Any referee, no matter what the code arriving in a new province with a big reputation is well scrutinised by club coaches who are quick to let the media know if they don't rate him.
"Maybe it's because I've only done three games here that you haven't heard of any complaints," laughs Pollock who started work as head of physical education at Hastings Boys' High School back in February.
A member of the NPC squad since 2001, Pollock, 33, recently returned from the world under-19 championships in South Africa where he was the only Kiwi ref.
He controlled five games - England v Scotland, South Africa v Ireland, Wales v Japan, the semifinal between England and South Africa and the playoff for third between England and Australia.
"Considering I hadn't had much rugby before I left, I was happy to get those games," Pollock said.
A former Wellington referee who has controlled 20 NPC games, Pollock, won't be on duty in the Bay this weekend.
He will be in the capital this afternoon controlling a clash between Poneke and Avalon so he can get an update on his form from his Wellington-based coach Harry Quinn.
Pollock makes no secret of the fact he is keen to join the professional ranks. "If I don't I've got my career here which I enjoy even if the kids are more challenging than they were at Wellington College," he said during a spell between classes.
The fact Pollock, who is full of praise for his employers who grant him plenty of leave for rugby commitments, has been invited to a pre-NPC conference with the six professionals in July, is another indication he is on the way up. Despite the invitation he still intends to maintain his new approach to refereeing.
"In the past I've focused on trying to impress the assessors. But in recent times I've changed my approach and do it more for the enjoyment," he said.
Pollock rates the recent world under-19 championships and the 2003 Hong Kong Sevens, where he was a late replacement, as the highlights of his career.
The keen multisporter rates North Harbour's Steve Walsh and Ireland's Alain Roland as his favourite referees. Like Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union officials, Pollock, hopes the national body will opt for a 14-team premier division.
"It will be better for everyone all around," he said referring to the fact his chances of receiving more top division appointments would increase.
Hawke's Bay's referee education officer Greg Davey is rapt with the standard of referees in the province. He expects Pollock to achieve his goal of joining the Bay's top whistle blowers Kelvin Deaker and Gary Wise among the country's professionals "in the not so distant future."
"Add this trio to the likes of Karl Gibson, Sean Edwards and Marty Hantz and we've got seven referees all eligible for first class fixtures," Davey added.