The New Chief Executive of Super League said the competition has something special to build on as he met the media for the first time today.
Robert Elstone, who took up the post last week, said: “When I met all the clubs for the first time three or four weeks ago, I started by thanking them for putting their trust in me. This is the job I’ve always wanted.
“It might have been the only job that took me away from a great football club like Everton. It’s a job I’m honoured to hold and a job I’m excited to fulfil.
“From the first day I could really understand it, I’ve loved this sport; what it stands for and what it’s all about. I have sold its virtues and defended its name to anyone and everyone prepared to listen. And plenty didn’t, particularly when you’ve spent most of your life in Barnsley and Bramhall.
“In my impressionable teenage years, two teams inspired me; Malcolm Reilly’s Castleford team of the mid-late 70s and of course, the 1982 Kangaroos. I had the good fortune to be a student in Hull at the time and the Kangaroos were the reason, three months after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, that I travelled to Sydney, put my career on hold, and went on a two-year tour of Australian Rugby League.
“On the way home, I cut short a round the world trip to get back to Cas for their game against the 1990 tourists.
“People will challenge me to define my vision for Super League. I don’t find that difficult. We all want, and we all need, a vibrant, sustainable, competitive and compelling Super League, one that sits at the heart of our communities, one that brings communities together, one that makes fans of our game proud.
“The challenge is how we achieve that. That’s about leadership, unity, and a committed and focused group of people who will roll their sleeves up and make things happen. It’s also about being positive and realising we have something special in our clubs, our fans, our players and the game we play.
“The job starts by establishing a positive working relationship with the RFL that respects Super League’s responsibility to the whole game, and challenges the RFL to provide the highest standards of governance for Super League.
“It quickly looks at replacing a competition format that isn’t working. That’s creating too much uncertainty for clubs and fans.
“It then focuses very clearly what matters, on growth; bringing in and retaining new fans; bringing in and retaining new partners; rewarding the fans and partners that come with us. Our biggest priority has to be to better fill our stadia.
“When at last year’s Man of Steel, Fred Done says we are the best sport he’s worked with; when Air Commodore Dean Andrew says our players are the closest athletes he’s ever met to his elite soldiers; when Scott Quinnell at the end of Magic says, ‘I love these people’, we have something special to build on.”
Keep an eye on the website for more with Robert Elstone and Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus shortly.