The 40-Test Black Ferns speedster’s started to think about different pathways she could go down after rugby and she said she wanted to try and stay involved in Sevens as much as she could on the field.
“I thought refereeing would be the next great option. So, I spoke about it with Bryce Lawrence and said I’m interested in giving refereeing a go and then I just started thinking, I could do it while I’m still playing rugby. It’s a good chance for me to see where I fit and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
Winiata has officiated three secondary school tournaments and while she admits it’s not a lot, she’s excited about the opportunity she’s been given in Fiji.
“I just want to go over there and be me and do the best that I can. I hope I can put out some good performances that World Rugby like and hopefully I can stick my hand up and try and get on the World Series, which is my ultimate goal.
The transition into refereeing has been quite an eye opener for Winiata, who admits in her first tournament, she was still running player lines, rather than referee lines.
“I was running everywhere that I didn’t need to. It’s been a real big shift in positional play, and I guess still being in the game, you can kind of read where the ball is going to go, so that does make it a bit easier.
“The fact that I’m still fit really helps on the field because I can keep up with the play and be in the moment. The biggest thing I want to ensure is that I have a real positive presence out on the field and be sharp in everything that I do.”
Never shy of a challenge, Winiata has a big refereeing goal.
“My thing is that I want to be able to ref on the World Sevens circuit and do that while I am still playing 15s. I’m not sure if that has been done before, but that’s my intention and that’s what I’m going for.”
It’s a goal that New Zealand Rugby National Referee Manager Bryce Lawrence backs all the way.
“We’ve identified Selica as a promising referee with a lot of talent and are working with her on a development plan to help her to improve and develop”, said Lawrence.
“It’s fantastic for Selica that rugby is giving her these opportunities to be able to play and referee at the same time and we’re really looking forward to seeing her perform.”
Winiata will also officiate at the Reb Bull Ignite7 tournament which takes place at The Trusts Arena on Saturday 23 November. She’ll be joined by former Black Ferns Sevens player Tiana Ngawati who has also picked up the whistle. Lauren Jenner will be refereeing alongside Winiata in Fiji this weekend.