Two years after slamming the New Zealand Rugby League for having no Maori on its board and describing its selection process as "bullshit", Kiwis legend Tawera Nikau is poised to earn a place at the game's top table.
Nikau has been nominated by an NZRL selection committee for one of two "league knowledgeable" positions on the seven-member board. Canterbury RL chairman Reon Edwards, who is also Maori, has been nominated for the second position.
The pair's nominations must be ratified by the game's zones, but that appears to be a formality as both men should enjoy the backing of the game's grassroots administrators.
Last year the zones rebelled over the attempted appointment of Debbie Sorenson and refused to ratify her selection, resulting in a year-long vacancy that should be filled at next month's AGM.
Five short-listed candidates were interviewed this week by a four-person panel of chairman Gary Fissenden, Akarana's Wayne Urquhart and two Sport New Zealand representatives.
Nikau played 19 tests between 1989-97 and captained NZ Maori at the 2000 World Cup.
He was inducted as an NZRL Legend of League in 2008, and currently serves as a Kiwis selector and a director for Upper Central Zone.
Edwards is a former Canterbury Maori and junior representative who has served three years as Canterbury chairman and six years on the Southern Zone board.
His business experience includes a range of finance, sales, marketing, development and governance positions.
"Last year, the zones told us they felt the board did not have enough grassroots football knowledge," Fissenden said. "We have listened and when the board briefed the appointments panel, we put a greater emphasis on this to complement our existing board members."
Nikau was furious when overlooked in 2013 for incumbent Ray Haffenden, blasting the organisation for its lack of Maori administrators.
Nikau's CV, in Te Reo and English, lists his Ngati Mahuta hapu and Ngati Makirangi iwi directly after his date of birth.
"One of the key things I have an issue with is that there are no Maori directors on the board - around 70 to 80 per cent of our players are Maori," he said in 2013.
Former chairman Scott Carter described the board as a "meritocracy", but that didn't wash with Nikau, who has significant business interests, a successful media and motivational speaking career and has been recognised for his charity work since he lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2003.
Nikau has not responded to Herald requests for an interview.
The NZRL has notified its zones of the two successful candidates and their confirmation will be the subject of a vote at its annual meeting on June 29.
Current board member Jen Rolfe has also been nominated for another term as independent director.
Rolfe is managing partner in Rainger & Rolfe creative agency, with specialist expertise in driving consumer engagement and brand activation.