South African referee Marius van der Westhuizen will join five compatriots on the Vodacom Super Rugby panel in 2014, SANZAR announced in Sydney on Thursday.
Van der Westhuizen and Australian Matt O'Brien are the newcomers on the panel, which also include Stuart Berry, Jason Jaftha, Craig Joubert, Lourens van der Merwe and Jaco Peyper.
SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray said of the inclusion of Van der Westhuizen and O'Brien, who is active on the HSBC Sevens World Series circuit: "Each of these men present the strongest potential profiles for refereeing at the top level. Both are so excited to be given the opportunity and we are adamant that we need to recruit these young guys and start developing them into top Super Rugby referees earlier rather than later."
Bray also paid tribute to Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa) who leave the squad through retirement.
“Jonathan Kaplan’s experience is second to none throughout a distinguished career at Test, Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels,” Bray said.
“He has accomplished more than any other referee in the history of Super Rugby, including being the first whistle-blower to officiate 100 games in our competition."
The squad will assemble for a camp in Sydney during January to build upon the framework that enables the referees to make the game easy to play for the players and easy to watch for the fans.
"We have done a lot of work around ‘what does the best game of Super Rugby look like?’ during review workshops across our three Super Rugby territories which will allow us to further refine and develop our best performance model for refereeing in this wonderful competition," Bray concluded.
The workshops were held in the three countries and confirmed the major outcome for the 2014 competition would hinge upon greater consistency in application, especially around the tackle ball.
The rest of the Vodacom Super Rugby Referee Squad for 2014 is: Nick Briant, Glen Jackson, Chris Pollock, Mike Fraser, Garratt Williamson (all New Zealand), Angus Gardner, Steve Walsh, Rohan Hoffmann, James Leckie, Andrew Lees (all Australia) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina).