Departing CEO Phil Holden says he is leaving the New Zealand Rugby League in a stronger position from when he took on the job and insists the national organisation is heading in the right direction.

Holden today confirmed his resignation from the job he took on in 2013 and believes the NZRL is well placed financially and structurally to further grow and develop the game at all levels.

Less than two years out from co-hosting the 2017 World Cup with Australia, he is confident the NZRL has managed to address a range of financial concerns after recording a modest profit of $16,000 for 2014-2015.

"The New Zealand Rugby League is in a very strong position, to be fair," said Holden.


"There will be some very good news coming out from Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand in terms of ongoing funding and commitment to New Zealand rugby league.

"We will post a good financial result at the end of the next financial year and some of the work we've been doing with Australia behind the scenes over the last 18 months to two years is looking very promising.

"So I'm very confident that the organisation will be in a very good place for the future."

Holden's optimism comes after a difficult year during which the NZRL were forced to rethink its strategic plan through to 2017, with several key objectives considered unrealistic.

Goals set of building $10 million in revenue and a $2 million surplus by 2017 were deemed unachievable, together with the aim of making the seven zones that service the grassroots needs of the game nationally financially independent by 2017.

Despite those troubles, Holden says the NZRL's structure is working harmoniously and in a better state than when he inherited his position from former CEO Jim Doyle.

"The calibre of people that are here in the organisation now and the shape of the organisation now, it's in a much stronger position than when I came in here," he said.

"We've signed a Memorandum of Understanding with all of our zones to get greater alignment to focus on agreed priorities. That's a biggie. So the organisations in a really strong place.


"The relationship between us and the zones is really tight and a lot more solid now than it has been at any point and that's reflected in the MOU being signed.

"Clearly we've got the World Cup coming and that's also shaping up quite nicely."

Under Holden's watch the NZRL went through a large turnover of staff that saw experienced league figures exit the organisation, prompting questions about the change in culture and the direction the NZRL was heading.

Holden defended the changes and perceived shift in culture, saying: "People come and go. We've got a great team here and we've got the best people in here for the organisation at this point in time.

"I would say that we're a high values based organisation now with a strong culture based on integrity, trust and respect.

"There's a great team in this organisation and they're good quality people, and that's why the machine will continue on."


He will continue to work together with interim CEO Alex Hayton into the new year, while the role is advertised publicly. Having sold his family home in Auckland, Holden plans on being settled in Greytown in the Wairarapa by February.

NZRL board chairman Gary Fissenden will take Holden's place on the Rugby League International Federation's board.