A long-time rugby union chief will have the job of rebuilding New Zealand Rugby League's culture in the wake of player defections, cocaine scandals and poor performances.
Greg Peters has today been appointed new CEO of New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL).
The former chief of SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby), who has also led Wellington Rugby and The Hurricanes, takes over from Alex Hayton who resigned abruptly less than two years into the role.
NZRL deputy chair Hugh Martyn has been acting CEO since Hayton’s departure in March.
“What our game needs right now is some strong leadership – a strong leader with resilience and someone who understands the grassroots structure of New Zealand rugby league,” Martyn told media in Auckland.
“It’s fair to say Greg’s CV speaks for itself. He is a proven CEO and we are extremely excited to have him on board.”
Most recently, Peters was general manager of Union Argentina de Rugby, where he guided the country’s new Super Rugby franchise in its infancy.
Prior to that, he was the CEO of SANZAAR for almost five years, where he was largely responsible for Super Rugby’s expansion. He also established the organisation’s first independent office based in Sydney, and helped secure a five-year broadcasting deal Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver called a “wonderful result”.
In his press conference on Tuesday, Peters said the three C’s of culture, community and commerce would unlock the potential of the code in New Zealand.
“Culture first of all,” he said.
“In this organisation we need a high performance culture on and off the field.
“We need a clear plan, I was really inspired to see the appointment of Michael Maguire as [Kiwis] head coach.
“It was part of my decision in taking the role, because I think we will work together as a really strong team going forward.
“The second part is community, without enough milk, you don’t have the cream rising to the top, so for us, the community game has to be well funded, supported and administered.
Without enough milk, you don’t have the cream rising to the top… the community game has to be well funded, supported and administered.
“Commercial is the third C, which is we need to fund the game and we need to grow the commercial revenue in rugby league in New Zealand.
“At the moment I don’t think we’re at the top of our game in that space and we need to be looking for new revenue streams and providing new funding into the game.”
Peters agrees with Castle Report findings
His predecessor stepped down amid the release of preliminary findings from an investigation into NZRL’s disastrous World Cup last year.
The review carried out by Tim Castle and Raelene Castle, among other things labelled Hayton’s dismissal of a high performance manager a “very serious” error in judgment, criticised coach David Kidwell’s handling of the Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich cocaine scandal after the Anzac Test, and blamed the defections of stars — like Jason Taumalolo to Tonga — on a disconnect between the NZRL and its players.
“I think it’s a well put together report,” Peters said of the document.
“If you look at it, it makes sense, it’s pretty obvious.
“If you’ve got, as identified in the report, a limited high performance capability within the organisation and no plan in place, what are you going to get?
“The recommendations make logical sense to me, but they are things through my career that I’ve seen put in place through other organisations, so it makes total sense to me.
“It’s a nice stepping stone approach.
“It’s obvious, not too hard to implement, getting results take time, but to actually put those building blocks in place isn’t difficult.”
The appointment of Peters looks to be a boon for the grassroots game too, with the respected executive saying one of his main objectives will be to grow the game at a community level.
“I think rugby league has a very unique capability of galvanising, unifying and inspiring communities. Getting to them in ways any other sport can get to people,” he said.
“It’s a passion of mine to see the community game grow. I want to connect with that part of the community in rugby league and provider the support and funding to our volunteers throughout that side of the game.”