New Hawke's Bay Rugby Union CEO Jay Campbell is confident he can galvanise the province in the wake of a turbulent 2017 season.
"There has been significant change in the union over the last 12 months, but I feel these are exciting and challenging times ahead. I look forward to playing my part in ensuring Hawke's Bay is a respected, inclusive and successful union," Campbell said.
The union's commercial manager since 2008, Campbell, 46, replaces Mike Bishop, who had the role for 12 years, and will switch offices on February 26. Bishop leaves on February 23.
"Most people understand you need change to move forward. There is plenty of talent in the Bay and our junior playing numbers are up. I've got a clear understanding of what is needed to re-energise the province from grassroots up," Campbell said.
A former senior rugby hooker with the University club in Palmerston North and the Marist St Pats club in Wellington, Campbell, declined to put a timeframe on how long he expects it to take for the Magpies to return to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.
"We're going to have a very inexperienced but exciting young side. We've got two inexperienced, but highly motivated coaches in Mark [Ozich] and Josh [Syms] who are both hungry for success.
During his stint as commercial manager Campbell generated at least $1.8 million in sponsorship each year for the union. However he said a key highlight of those eight years was being involved in the tendering process for the 2014 test between the All Blacks and Argentina.
"There is a cycle for tendering and I'm keen to take advantage of that opportunity again when it becomes available. It's great for the province and the rugby community."
The Magpies have had two Ranfurly Shield tenures since Campbell has been with the union and he described having the shield as "an amazing journey".
While the Magpies haven't got a challenge against holders Taranaki in the draft Mitre 10 Cup draw, which isn't expect to be finalised until the end of next month, Campbell is hopeful it won't be too long before the log o wood returns to the Bay. Following the resignation of four board members last year Campbell said he has enjoyed working with a new enthusiastic group of board members.
Among his immediate priorities will be the appointment of a new commercial manager, a new academy manager following the resignation of Joe Payton, a new finance manager following the departure of Jo Bayliss and two new rugby development officers as Magpies centenarian Chris Eaton is playing overseas and Magpies prop Jarvy Aoake has transferred to Waikato to work for New Zealand Rugby.
A father of three who plays the odd game of fourth-grade cricket for Taradale and also for the Hay Ball Hurlers Invitation side in their annual fixture, Campbell, was raised in Hawke's Bay. After studying at Massey University he worked in the financial industry abroad before returning home and working in finance and management roles in the Bay before linking up with the union.
"I feel extremely privileged to be given the opportunity to lead our province into a new and exciting era. There is a vision and some innovative thinking already under way aimed at keeping Hawke's Bay among the best rugby provincial unions in the country," Campbell added.
Union chairman Brendan Mahony said his board conducted an extensive and robust search and interview process before deciding Campbell was the best candidate to lead the province forward.
"Jay has been highly successful, loyal and committed in his commercial role with the union and is highly regarded and respected by his peers throughout the rugby industry. He has an excellent rapport with both the rugby community and commercial partners throughout the region.
"Jay's record of excellence, strong work ethic, significant industry knowledge and understanding of the local rugby community was unparalleled and we believe he is more than capable to take the reins as CEO," Mahony said.
"We take this opportunity to also thank Mike for his long and dedicated service to our union," he added.