Despite united front, friction at NZR after dramatic vote for new chairman

New Zealand Rugby has a new face leading the fight against its players over the $400 million Silver Lake deal.

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The secret ballot resulted in Stewart Mitchell winning but he already faces plenty of challenges. Source: 1 NEWS

Stewart Mitchell has been named as Brent Impey’s successor with NZR saying the board is united behind him - despite sources telling 1 NEWS otherwise.

It was a secret ballot run by NZR's president and vice president but sources claim who voted for who is out and there was just one vote in it.

Mitchell came out on top against former North Harbour chairman Shaun Nixon as well as Māori entrepreneur and businessman Bailey Mackey, who was the unlucky second-place getter.

Mitchell told 1 NEWS the campaign was tough.

“There was pressure to perform in front of the board, to convince them I was right person and we got there.”

He's considered a safe pair of hands at a challenging time but he'll only serve as chairman for two years before his maximum term on the board is reached.

His newly appointed deputy, Dr Farah Palmer, will be gaining crucial experience in that time though, he said.

“I've sat around the board table with Farah for four years. I really value her contribution and her skills.”

Despite the secret ballot, two board members say they made their vote known to their preferred candidate, along with others.

1 NEWS has heard reports of disharmony, despite Mitchell’s message otherwise today.

“At the end of the day, everybody got in behind me, said they're gonna support me," Mitchell said.

One thing the board is said to be united over is taking on the Players’ Association who refuse green light the Silver Lake deal.

“Certainly, I want to be more closely involved now,” Mitchell said.

“I haven't really been in the front row as it were.”