Peers voice praise as Castle gets Bulldogs job

BRAD WALTER AND ADRIAN PROZSENKO
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2013
Raelene Castle
Fairfax NZ
CROSSING THE DITCH: Former Netball NZ CEO has crossed the Tasman to take up her new role with the NRL's Bulldogs.

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Leading administrators have welcomed the appointment of Netball New Zealand chief executive Raelene Castle to the Bulldogs job, with confirmation expected today that she will become the first female CEO of an NRL club for 15 years.

Castle - whose father, Bruce, captained the New Zealand Kiwis in the 1960s - and Australian Rugby Union Players' Association chief executive Greg Harris are understood to have been the final two candidates to replace Todd Greenberg, and Fairfax Media was told by several sources yesterday that the Kiwi netball boss had the job.

The decision was expected to be ratified at a joint meeting of the Canterbury football and leagues club boards on last night, with an announcement expected before Castle returns to New Zealand late today after taking yesterday off as annual leave.

If appointed, she will become the first female chief executive of an NRL club since fellow Kiwi Liz Dawson, who was in charge of the Adelaide Rams in 1997 and early 1998, when she left and was replaced by current ARU official Michael O'Connor. Cronulla also had a female chief executive, Donna Burke, in 1988-89.

Former New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Jim Doyle, who has been appointed along with Greenberg to the NRL executive team, is understood to have recommended Castle.

 ''I can't speak highly enough of her. She would be an asset to any organisation,'' Doyle said.  

''From my own personal knowings of her and my dealings with her, she is very, very smart. She understands sport and has a rugby league background. She has a huge passion for league and when we had a Kiwis or Warriors game she'd often be there. She's a big rugby league follower.''

Warriors club boss  Wayne Scurrah also praised Castle for her job with New Zealand Netball and welcomed the appointment of a woman to the NRL's chief executive ranks.

''She has always struck me as a really competent person who has done a great job with netball so it is a great innovation for the Bulldogs,'' Scurrah said.

''It is a different business and a different country for her but she has certainly earned her stripes in netball and I think it would be great to see her welcomed into the NRL.

''Netball would be by far the biggest female sport in New Zealand, they get massive crowds wherever they play around the country if there is a Test match, and the Australasian league has grown in momentum under Raelene as well.

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''I think it is a really positive move for the NRL to have a lady like her at the very least in the running and if she gets the job she would deserve it for sure.''

Dawson, who is a director and part owner of the Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise, said she supported the appointment of any female sporting administrator provided they were earned the job on merit.

''I would welcome for any club or any sporting code to have the right person, the best person for the job, and if that happens to be a woman then so be it and that is great,'' Dawson said.  ''I am sure that anyone who has been in the role that I was in in the past would say it actually has to be the right person for the job.

''I have always maintained that and you can only look at people's background and the experience they have to know whether they are going to do the right job or not.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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