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Hayton endorsed as NZRL chief executive

New Zealand Rugby League has appointed Alex Hayton as its new chief executive.

Hayton stepped into the role on an interim basis after predecessor Phil Holden departed in January and has been awarded the role after a robust recruitment process.

Previously chief financial officer, Hayton joined NZRL in 2007, so is well versed in the issues facing the game, both nationally and internationally.

Before joining rugby league’s governing body, he was NZ Soccer operations manager.

During its search for a new CEO, a key consideration for the NZRL board – and a major factor counting in Hayton’s favour – was maintaining consistency of leadership.

“One of the messages we received from all our stakeholders was their confidence in NZRL leadership,” says board chair Garry Fissenden. “Alex already commands the respect of NZRL staff and board, and keeping that continuity was important to us.

“During the past few months, we’ve had a chance to see how he handles the extra responsibility and we’ve seen him really grow into the role. He has guided us through some delicate conversations with stakeholders, both in New Zealand and Australia, and impressed everyone with his knowledge, his ability to communicate and his vision for the game’s future.”

For his part, Hayton is obviously delighted to retain the job, which sees him presiding over the world #1 NZ Kiwis, an exciting Kiwi Ferns women’s programme, a thriving junior development strategy and a range of projects designed to improve lives within the rugby league community.

For his part, Hayton is obviously delighted to retain the job, which sees him presiding over the world #1 NZ Kiwis, an exciting Kiwi Ferns women’s programme, a thriving junior development strategy and a range of projects designed to improve lives within the rugby league community.

“I’m passionate about rugby league,” he says. “This was the first sport I ever played as a kid.

“I really believe in NZRL’s ‘more than just a game’ approach. We’re one of the few, if not the only sport in New Zealand that can have this kind of impact on society.

“This is definitely a role that I’ve aspired to and I’m grateful to now have that opportunity.”

Looming large on the horizon is Rugby League World Cup 2017, and Hayton faces the challenge of not just winning on the field, but also leveraging the event’s profile to grow the game beyond next year.