She's only the second female board member in the history of the Warriors - but Niki Schuck says gender had nothing to do with it.

In a reshuffle of the boardroom chairs at Mt Smart Stadium this week, Mrs Schuck was one of four changes at the top table. Lawyer Owen Eastwood and sports executive Cameron George were also appointed new directors, while club owner Eric Watson takes over as chairman.

Mrs Schuck, whose business success has seen her establish one of New Zealand's top public relations companies, says her new role is a step into uncharted territory.

However, don't think for a minute her appointment is about gender parity - Watson and respected chief executive Jim Doyle head-hunted her for the job.


"Jim and Eric have made it very clear to me that my appointment is the result of my skills and expertise, not because I'm female," Mrs Schuck told the Weekend Herald.

"The Warriors are a constantly evolving brand and right now they need specific skills on their board. These new appointments come with expertise in different areas, it's something Jim and Eric identified as something they want to work on, hence they approached me."

Women have made big steps in the world of rugby league in recent years, most notably former Netball New Zealand boss Raelene Castle, who became just the second woman to take the helm of an National Rugby League franchise when she was appointed Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive in May 2013. It was a move lauded as progressive for the game.

"Raelene has definitely set the bar high, which is very positive for the perception of women's role in rugby league," Mrs Schuck said.

"But the reality is 50 per cent of Warriors members are female. We know that women are decision-makers in families, manage finances and love to do family-orientated things. Those who have been to a Warriors game know it is incredibly family-orientated, which is fantastic to see.

Those who have been to a Warriors game know it is incredibly family-orientated, which is fantastic to see.


"Warriors merchandising is also massive and that's something that is often driven by women, buying gifts for friends and family. So when you take all that into account, women are just as big a part of this club as men."

With previous positions at significant businesses, including SkyCity and House of Travel, and having run her own PR company since 2008, which has the likes of Paul Henry and Lizzie Marvelly on the books, Mrs Schuck says she brings a set of skills, contacts and perspective the Warriors may previously not have had.

"Obviously I've got a lot of experience in public relations and communication, but the contacts that I bring - particularly in media - are quite different to the ones the Warriors communications team have, which are very rugby league and very sport-orientated," she said.

"Recognising we want to expand the fan base and get more people along to the Warriors, that's going to come naturally from people outside of sport.

"It's that sort of idea generation and connections they'll be looking to me for."

They'll also be looking to Mrs Schuck for advice on maintaining and expanding the Warriors' family-orientated ethos.

Rugby league has had a series of high-profile off-field incidents in recent seasons - the latest involving State of Origin star and Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

The Warriors haven't been immune, most recently when a video of Konrad Hurrell receiving oral sex while driving in 2014 went viral.

Mrs Schuck stressed "isolated incidents" shouldn't tar an entire sport.

"The Warriors is very much about family and our fan base is probably the most dedicated of any NRL team and would rival a number of other sport teams around the world. It's incredibly loyal."

Instead, she says, a bigger issue is being part of a market which has never been more competitive.

"One of the biggest challenges is the entertainment arena," she said. "There's so much on offer to people whether it's sporting events or concerts - and that's even before you get to digital entertainment through the internet, from games to social media.

"So many people are vying for the leisure dollar so if we have a great entertaining event where people want to come along, that's what we need to do each week."