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NRL Media Release: CEOs and Chairman’s Meeting

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A meeting of National Rugby League Chief Executives and Chairmen has been advised that former Queensland international and Managing Director in Internet Technology Company Data#3, Mr John Grant, has indicated he will accept an invitation to become the inaugural Chairman of Rugby League’s Independent Commission.


South Sydney President, Mr Nick Pappas, who has been a member of the selection panel, gave the first official confirmation of the eight persons invited to form Rugby League’s first Independent Commission and said that Mr Grant has indicated his acceptance of the offer.


The remaining seven are:  Chairperson of Harris Farm Markets, Ms Catherine Harris AO PSM; Brand strategist and Former Chairman and Managing Director of George Patterson Bates, Mr Ian Elliott; Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of Leighton Holdings,  Mr Peter Gregg; Former Chairman of QANTAS and SOCOG, Mr Gary Pemberton AC; CSR Chairman, Mr Jeremy Sutcliffe; Former international player and management consultant, Mr Wayne Pearce OAM; Executive Director of Queensland Technology’s Stronger Smarter Institute and Indigenous education leader, Dr Chris Sarra.


There remain a number of legal steps before the Commission can be fully operational but already there are moves to ensure that once the Commissioners formally accept their invitations a structured briefing process will begin. This will ensure all are aware of key planning issues in advance of the Commission’s formal incorporation.


“It is certainly important that we do all we can to ensure that the Commission is in a place to make decisions from the earliest possible opportunity,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.


“This has been a lengthy process and there are a number of legal steps required to finalise all membership agreements, dissolve the existing NRL Partnership and Board, dissolve the ARL Board, transfer all contracts and meet all tax and company requirements.


“We are being advised that this may take a bit more time, which will give valuable time for the Commissioners to be briefed on all important issues in advance of their first formal meeting.


“Already we are moving forward with the immediate priorities for 2012 including the Draw, Salary Cap and Club Grants.


“At the same time, there is a significant amount of necessary groundwork underway to assist the Commission in determining strategic decisions for 2013, including television rights and competition structure.


“This year has seen an important balance between maintaining the game’s strong momentum in terms of crowds, membership and ratings and in preparing for the introduction of the Commission to review long-term strategies.”


Today’s meeting was advised that the NRL is aiming for a lift to next year’s salary cap by $100,000 to $4m (with allowances and third party agreements adding a further $760,000 and the retirement fund contribution a further $100,000) with the club grant rising $200,000 to $3.85m (up from $3.65m).


“We’ve been discussing it with the RLPA and the CBA Committee and still need to finalise a number of aspects but it is important clubs have a guide for 2012,” Mr Gallop said.


“It ensures a further lift for the players and importantly narrows the gap between the club grant and the cap, which is a key priority.”


Plans were also unveiled to move the 2012 All Stars to February 4 and to commence the 2012 Telstra Premiership on a Thursday night a week earlier than this year’s March 11 kick-off.


The move will allow for a stand-alone weekend that would see an Australia v New Zealand Test in New Zealand on the Friday and a City v Country match at Mudgee on Sunday.


The calendar would also include the same number of Telstra Premiership games and the same State of Origin structure.


More substantial changes were discussed for 2013 and beyond including a move to two Monday night State of Origin matches and one played on a stand-alone Origin weekend that would include a New Zealand-based Origin concept and a Toyota Cup-based Origin format. The stand-alone weekend could be scheduled around either Game Two or Game Three.


The season structure proposal would see a Telstra Premiership match taken to a country centre in a ‘country’ weekend that would also see matches scheduled at major regional venues including Wollongong, Newcastle and Gosford.


Under the proposal, the country-based round would replace the City-Country match, again to reduce the load on representative players and the demands on clubs.


There would be no mid-season Test between Australia and New Zealand, with the international schedule confined to the end of season.


The concept would see clubs play twelve home and twelve away matches.


An additional option has been raised to create an extra round that would see a weekend of triple-headers in Sydney and Brisbane and a double-header that could be played in New Zealand or similar venues like Newcastle or Melbourne.


“The whole focus of this option is to reduce the load on representative players and to reduce the number of club games affected by Origin stand-downs,” Director of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, said today.


“The plan has been discussed with our Season Structure Committee, which includes a number of clubs. We have also consulted with others including Ricky Stuart, Wayne Bennett, Darren Lockyer, the Country Rugby League, the NZRL, the ARL and the RLPA, before being presented to the sixteen clubs today.


“There is still a lot of work ahead and areas of debate but the important things are that it is scheduled in a way that retains eight-day camps for Origin and it gives players more time to back up after Origin.


“A key component is the agreement to reduce the number of Monday night games to allow Origin camps to begin on Sunday and a greater ability to schedule matches before and after Origin so that there is minimal impact on the competition.


“There is still a lot to discuss before the Commission can consider any recommendations and there are a number of areas that are still being debated, but the overall feedback to date has been encouraging.”

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