Phillip Sung has got the trifecta: he’s working in two unpopular occupations and he’s a traitor.
If Sung added being a parking inspector, he’d have the quadrella.
He works for the State Railway Authority as a planning officer: ‘‘My friends always make jokes when the trains run late.’’
He’s a Parramatta district association rugby league referee. Nuff said.
And he grew up in Baulkham Hills and follows the Cronulla Sharks instead of the Parramatta Eels.
But there is a lot more to say, and the league world is making a song and dance about Sung.
Dare it be said: it’s singing his praises.
Sung has become the first-Asian born referee promoted to senior competitions since the code’s inception here in 1908.
He’s qualified to referee NSW, Ron Massey and Holden Cup matches this year — the bridge between the junior associations and the NRL.
‘‘That’s the goal, that would be the ultimate; to be paid for doing what you enjoy,’’ Sing said of graduating to the NRL.
In the modern game, Sing was a slow starter, however.
He came here from his native South Korea at seven.
‘‘I played a bit of rugby league and a lot of basketball at school,’’ he said.
‘‘The thing that struck me was how much people loved rugby league, people always seemed to be discussing or constructively criticising the game and it always seemed to be out of their passion for the sport.
‘‘It seemed like a game that was always looking at ways to improve itself, which I liked.’’
Sing did a double commerce-law degree at university and that’s when he took up the whistle, at the now-late of 18.
‘‘It looked interesting and referees played an important role, so I thought I’d give it a go.
“I was looking for something to challenge myself and take me outside my comfort zone.’’
It wasn’t a great challenge as sung tuned up with under/5s through to under/9s and mini and mod league.
The challenges began when he started in the older age groups.
‘‘It’s OK, you expect that,’’ he said of abuse from players.
‘‘It wasn’t difficult to handle.’’
Sung saw it as a rite of passage; a necessary coping with pressure.
The hard part was coping with abuse from spectators and coaches on the sidelines.
‘‘You receive threats but I wasn’t physically threatened.’’
Some young referees have been, there is a high attrition rate and this year beginners will wear fluorescent learner vests.
Sung has survived the rite of passage, refereed in the Parramatta A-grade competition last year and is up in the big leagues.
‘‘The skills will be higher and their approach will be more professional,’’ he said of the best part.
‘‘There’ll be added pressure,’’ he said of the filmed performances and the post-mortems with his evaluator.
He’s up for the challenges because if he passes the tests, the next and last test is the NRL.
‘‘The physical side keeps you fit and active, but it’s also mentally challenging when you always have to think and make decisions on the spot.’’
Most admired referee?
‘‘Tim Mander because of his calm demeanour when he controlled the game,’’ he said.
The same Mander who went ‘‘yippee’’ with excitement at State-of—Origin kick-off.
Sung might burst into song should he blow that whistle for an NRL kick-off.