Rugby Australia's new CEO Andy Marinos is upbeat about the governing body's relationship with New Zealand Rugby despite suggestions it has been strained.
The former Sanzaar boss was appointed the new head of Australian rugby in December, and formally took over the role yesterday. He takes over the role that was held by Rob Clarke in the interim, following on from New Zealander Raelene Castle's tumultuous tenure that ended last August.
One of the keys to Marinos' job will be maintaining a working relationship with New Zealand Rugby and its chief executive Mark Robinson, which he says is currently healthy.
"It's a good working relationship," he assures.
"I know that Hamish [McLennan, chairman] and Rob [Clarke] had met with their counterparts in New Zealand and it's important, it's an important alliance for Australia as it is for New Zealand that we work together in this region and are both able to be successful."
Just last year the relationship between the two bodies looked to be frayed when McLennan told Sky Sport's The Breakdown it was at it's 'lowest ebb it's ever been at'.
Marinos embraces any challenges that may arise.
"This whole game is about relationship; it's about working together and sitting around the table," he says.
"I think that's been one of the challenging things we've had over the last 12 months, with not being able to get in a room all the time and sit down and have a face to face. A lot gets lost in interpretation over Zoom calls so that's obviously critically important to continue building those relationships but at the same time, make sure that we're doing what's best for Australian Rugby as well and putting ourselves first and foremost."
Marinos arrives with plenty of experience that transcends international borders, having been born in Zimbabwe, and playing in both South Africa and Wales, before holding positions within Welsh rugby and Sanzaar.
The 48-year-old recognises the need to re-establish rugby as a major sport in Australia, with the game falling behind the other two big football codes in rugby league and Aussie rules.
"It's [rugby] sitting behind them without a doubt, and a large part of that... it hasn't been as effective at getting into the community and growing the game," he says.
"Alongside cricket, it's got real global appeal. The fact that it can compete regularly on an international stage, it does participate in a Rugby World Cup which arguably is bigger than the Cricket World Cup and bigger than any other major sporting event that comes out of this country.
"In the region it's clear it's not where it should be, but that's also directly linked to high performance and performance of the teams and the attractiveness of the product we're putting out on the park week in week out."
Marinos adds there is a responsibility on the Wallabies and Wallaroos to help rebuild the game.
Like New Zealand, Australia will enjoy a domestic Super Rugby competition featuring their five franchises, before the Super Rugby transtasman competition, which is set to begin on May 14.
Complications surrounding the global pandemic means the viability of South Africa hosting the event is dwindling.
Marinos would love to see the tour in Australia, if it's possible.
"When it comes to the Lions, our main priority is to get our French tour underway and have the French over here," he says.
"If part of that and through that process we can provide a safe haven where the British and Irish Lions Tour can continue, why wouldn't we? It's so important for the global rugby economy and the global rugby community."
Marinos says officials in the Northern Hemisphere are "desperate" to have a Lions tour in 2021.
"There's a will to get it underway, it's just where."