Howard could negotiate league’s political minefield
His political career certainly did not last as long as John Howard’s. But Mal Meninga had no doubt the former Australian Prime Minister would be a success in rugby league’s “political minefield”.
Howard was sounded out recently by Gold Coast Titans boss Michael Searle to become the inaugural chairman of an independent commission to run the sport.
Searle is leading an NRL club committee to establish the commission with eight directors.
League legend Meninga could manage a smile about his own aborted political career but he was deadly serious when he backed Howard in the mooted chairman role.
“I dabbled in politics for about 16 seconds, I am sure he doesn’t need a lot of advice from me,” Meninga said.
“He has managed a country of 20 million people before.
“But rugby league can be a political minefield at times.
“We have all these different factions in our game.
“It is not an easy game but I am sure he could handle it if he took it on.”
While Howard is 70, Queensland Origin coach Meninga said the former PM would inject the “fresh blood” he believed the sport needed.
It is proposed the NRL, the ARL, the NSWRL, the Country Rugby League and the Queensland Rugby League would all merge and operate under the commission.
“I wouldn’t say we have hangers on in our administration at the moment – we have passionate people at the top of our game, who have tremendous experience, that should never be underestimated,” Meninga told AAP.
“I just think we need to freshen the game up.
“We have got five independent bodies that sit at various levels and a partnership that oversees things.
“I think an independent commission with tremendous networking and business acumen who have got a passion for the game can take the sport in a new direction.
“Rugby league has a wonderful product but I think we need fresh blood who can take us in a fresh direction.”
Searle said the process for finding potential commissioners began 18 months ago but claimed there was no time frame for it to be completed.
“It is important that we get the negotiations across the line in regards to the creation of an independent commission,” Searle told Fox Sports TV.
“This (is) maybe the vehicle that will allow us to get highly credentialled and certainly people with high integrity and community leaders to come to our game – it would be an outstanding result for rugby league.
“One administration controlling the game of rugby league would be an outstanding outcome for our game considering we do have a convoluted structure at the moment.
“One of the many benefits of an independent commission would be that we have community leaders that represent all interests of the community but also bring to the game a new view on how the game should be moving forward.”© AAP 2013
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