Greg Peters spent 20-years as a top rugby administrator but says his switch to the helm of the New Zealand Rugby League is driven by the 13-man game's unique ability to connect communities.
The former head of SANZAAR and ex-Hurricanes boss came through a thorough selection process to become the NZRL's new CEO. His appointment came after the need for stronger expertise, leadership and commercial capabilities at their headquarters was uncovered by the review in the wake of 2017's disastrous World Cup campaign.
Peters says he can help break the cash-strapped organisation's reliance on cyclical cash injections around the World Cup, and is intent on improving the NZRL's culture, lifting the national game and broadening its appeal at grassroots level.
"Rugby league has the ability to unite people in a way that I don't think any other sport can," says Peters.
"It's really important to the fabric of societies where rugby league is predominant, but we shouldn't be restricted to those groups or areas of society. We should be looking to get into spaces we haven't before and put the option of playing rugby league in front of little kids in New Zealand.
"Spreading the word and capturing hearts and minds, you've got to be a performing organisation to do that, on and off the field."
The Kiwis inglorious World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Fiji, following a shock pool group loss to Tonga, underlined the need for the NZRL to establish a better high performance programme.
The recent appointment of former NRL premiership winning South Sydney coach Michael Maguire as head coach of the Kiwis gives Peters confidence they are on the right track.
The pair spoke over the phone this week and will meet for the first time when Maguire arrives for the round 14 NRL clash between Manly and the Warriors in Christchurch on June 9.
"We're going to have a high performance manager in the not too distant future," he says.
"We don't have a fixed view on who that might be and we need to work with High Performance Sport New Zealand to formulate the position description, the high performance plan, and start looking at candidates for what is a critical role."
Finding new revenue streams and generating profit are keys to implementing those plans.
Test matches on home soil are a priority, Peters insists, beyond the upcoming one-off mid-year test against England in Denver on June 23.
"[The game is] not in trouble but you have a World Cup and that funds the next four years.
"So that's the challenge. You've got to get out of that mentality and have a commercial programme that underpins things year in and year out without the reliance on that one big hit every four years.
"You've got to be playing in front of your home crowds. Denver's a different proposition. We have to make sure there's the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns seen playing in New Zealand."
With the game struggling in the regions, Peters will be making his way around the country to hear the concerns of clubs battling to survive with little support from the governing body.
"I'll listen to what they've got to say and want them to tell me about the challenges they're facing."
Having lived in Sydney and Argentina in recent years, Peters insists it's the ability to help the local game to foster and develop talent and create better pathways that excites him most about his new job.
"It's the breadth of the role that excites me. I've missed in recent years the actual connections with the community game.
"Little kids playing mini mods and 15 years later, if he or she turn up in the Kiwis or Kiwi Ferns, then you know you've done your job."
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