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NRL names new CEO for Rugby League World Cup

Andrew Hill has been appointed as the new chief executive of the organising committee for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup national team tournament, which will be co-hosted by Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Hill (pictured), who currently serves as general manager of league integration and game development at the National Rugby League (NRL) club competition, replaces Michael Brown, who stepped down from his role last month. Hill will officially assume the role on August 29.

“Andrew has a great connection with the game from the grassroots through to the international stage,” World Cup chairman Dr George Peponis said. “He brings with him a technical understanding as well as vision for the strategic direction of the game not just in Australia, New Zealand and the region but around the world.

“Andrew's experience in working at the club level, as a senior executive with the NRL and the international federation brings a unique outlook to the game. It's this all-of-game perspective that we think is important in leading the Rugby League World Cup and will complement the skills of those already serving on the organising committee.”

Brown’s resignation followed a war of words with Corey Payne, the chief executive of Sydney-based NRL team the Penrith Panthers. Sydney was only awarded hosting rights to two pool stage matches at the World Cup, both of which feature minnows Lebanon, and Payne felt the city, a traditional rugby league hotbed, should have been handed more high-profile games.

Brown responded strongly to Payne’s claims before resigning days later. Brown’s voicemail message to Payne has not been made public, although Panthers Group chief executive Brian Fletcher was quoted by Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph as describing it as “absolutely disgusting”.

The host venues for the tournament were announced on July 19, with Brown at the time stating that the decision to not award Sydney high-profile games hinged on the lack of state support from the New South Wales government.

As main host, Australia will stage 18 games, while seven will take place in New Zealand. Papua New Guinea will host each of the country’s three pool stage games. The event gets underway at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium when Australia hosts England on October 27, with the final being held at Brisbane Stadium on December 2.