AN OLDHAM rugby league official is in line to officiate at his second consecutive World Cup.

Robert Hicks has been named on the International Rugby League elite panel that will officiate top-tier matches in 2021, including when the sport’s biggest event comes to England later this year.

The former Hulme Grammar School pupil is one of the top referees in the country having overseen two Super League Grand Finals and two Challenge Cup finals.

Hicks also took charge of two matches at the 2017 World Cup, when he was touch judge for the men’s semi-final between England and Tonga and the women’s final between Australia and New Zealand.

His background in the law means that as well as being a well-respected official, he is also the Rugby Football League’s legal and compliance manager.

But it is rugby league in the blood, his father Ray having played for Roughyeds while grandfather Ken Fisher was chairman of the Oldham club.

Hicks is joined on the elite panel by fellow English referees Chris Kendall and Liam Moore and NRL officials Grant Atkins, Ashley Klein, Gerard Sutton and Henry Perenara with an eighth member to be confirmed.

Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s chief on-field officer, said: “Congratulations to the three officials who have been nominated for the new IRL squads.

“It’s an exciting year for international rugby league with the pinnacle for match officials being the World Cup in England in the autumn, and we’re confident that our officials will be pushing hard to be appointed for the big games in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions.”