NRL referee Grant Atkins to officiate Andrew Howe memorial day clash between Kendall and Long Flat

THERE won't be a bunker to be seen when Grant Atkins has to make his first decision at Kendall Showground on Saturday.

Atkins is set to officiate the Hastings League fixture between Kendall and Long Flat not even 24 hours after refereeing the NRL grand final rematch between Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm.

After he blows full-time in Adelaide on Friday night, Atkins will check out of his hotel room first thing on Saturday morning before boarding a flight bound for Sydney and then onto Port Macquarie.

He is expected to arrive in Kendall a little after lunch time.

With more than 100 first grade games under his belt, Atkins was looking forward to the nature of a Hastings League fixture which doubled as a significant day for the tight-knit community.

"You know your career is not on the line at Kendall which is a good thing," he said.

"It's about putting back into a game that means something to a community.

"The day is around raising funds and making an enjoyable game and if I can contribute to that in any way, it's a privilege for me to do."

He admitted it was a "privilege" to take charge of the clash between the Blues and Long Flat on a day the club holds the Andrew Howe charity day.

It's about putting back into a game that means something to a community.

Grant Atkins

His guest appearance was the brainchild of Kendall Old Boys Club treasurer Peter Hollins.

"He's a family friend of ours and when I heard about the tragedy earlier in the year I was hoping I was available this weekend," Atkins said.

"They were happy for me to (referee the game), but I wanted to make sure I wasn't stepping on anyone's toes."

The 37-year-old officiated the women's State of Origin clash at North Sydney Oval last Friday before he was the standby referee in Perth for the men's second State of Origin on Sunday.

After clocking up more than a thousand kilometres in the last seven days, he was looking forward to refereeing a match where he would be under less scrutiny.

"It's a fairly humbling experience," Atkins said.

Big coup: NRL referee Grant Atkins will take charge of Saturday's Hastings League fixture between Kendall and Long Flat. Photo: supplied

Big coup: NRL referee Grant Atkins will take charge of Saturday's Hastings League fixture between Kendall and Long Flat. Photo: supplied

"I've been refereeing since 1997 and been in the NRL for 10 years now, so it's good to go back to your roots a little bit and just enjoy some park footy.

"There will be far less scrutiny not only in terms of replays and things like that, but in terms of the dialogue you'll be able to have with players.

"You're fairly censored when your words go to broadcast, so it (will) enable (me) to be a bit freer out there."

You have to go back more than 30 years to find a link between the Atkins family and the Hastings.

They lived in Port Macquarie for 12 months in 1988 when father Graeme captain-coached the Port Macquarie Sharks following a 12-year career with the Parramatta Eels.

"It's good to come back to a region we haven't been in 30 years," Atkins said.

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