'It's been a very big year' - Raelene Castle ready to get to work as Australian Rugby CEO

Raelene Castle is playing down her groundbreaking appointment as Rugby Australia's new CEO as she sets about trying to make the sport the No.1 football code in the country.

The former Canterbury NRL chief executive was announced as Bill Pulver's successor at RA's Sydney headquarters at Moore Park.

Castle will take up her post on January 15, becoming the first female boss of any of the national governing bodies of the four major football codes in Australia.

But dismissing as "media fascination" her watershed leap into Australian rugby's hottest seat, Castle said "the work starts today" in reconnecting with disenchanted fans after one of the toughest years since the code went professional in 1996.

"The reality is sport has gender equity in it. There's people from both who are really delivering, particularly at grassroots level," Castle, also a former Netball New Zealand chief, said.

"So I don't think it's enormous step to have a female chief executive. I'm excited about the opportunity.

"My experience in rugby league was very strong. I don't expect my experience in rugby union to be any different."

Castle spent four years at the Bulldogs, presiding over three NRL finals appearances for the club, including the 2014 grand final loss to South Sydney, before resigning this season.

"(The Bulldogs) really helped me understand the Australian sporting landscape. It's a unique landscape," she said.

"That experience working with the Bulldogs in that landscape and also working with a coach like Des Hasler, who's a strong personality, that will also help me when I have to forge a very strong relationship with (Wallabies coach) Michael Cheika."

The Wagga Wagga-born Kiwi's first priority is to "take a breath".

"It's been a very big year, it's been a challenging year, and this is about some stability moving forward," Castle said.

"But it's about building the relationships, building strong relationships with the states and the franchises and making sure we recognise that rugby is an important game right across the country and getting out and about and meeting some of the rugby people in the community.

"It genuinely is an exciting sport that has an international landscape that no other sport in this country has.

"It offers something that the NRL and AFL can't offer and that is a genuine international and regular international platform for athletes to travel internationally to perform on the world stage."

RA chairman Cameron Clyne said Castle's commercial experience and ability to "make money" for the national body made her the standout applicant among more than 200 candidates including former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns.

"Raelene is an extremely impressive executive who covered every base as far as what the board was looking for in a chief executive officer to lead our game into an important new chapter," Clyne said.

"But also Raelene is bringing a fresh set of eyes, but not new to this market."


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'Mum and dad will be stoked' - Ioane brothers thrilled to re-sign with NZ Rugby

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has hailed the influence of older brother Akira, as the pair today recommitted to New Zealand Rugby for another four years.

Rieko, 21, and Akira, 23, both put pen to paper on new deals, deciding to remain within New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to media at Auckland Airport, Rieko spoke about the pair's decisions to stay at home in New Zealand.

"We've been lucky enough to play together for so long," he said.

"I'm pretty happy that both Aki and I are staying around home for a bit longer.

"I'm sure mum and dad will be stoked as well."

Both Rieko and Akira Ioane have penned new deals to stay in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS


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'He's only just beginning' – Steve Hansen gushes over Rieko Ioane's new deal

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that there's more to come from star winger Rieko Ioane, as the youngster put pen to paper on a new deal with New Zealand Rugby.

Since making his debut at the end of 2016, Ioane, 21, has been a standout for the All Blacks, displacing Julian Savea as the first-choice in the number 11 jersey.

Speaking to media ahead of his side's departure to Argentina, Hansen spoke of his delight at Ioane's commitment to the All Blacks.

"He's a special player and he's only at the beginning of his career," Hansen began.

"What he's done so far, with maturity and greater game understanding is just going to get better and better.

"He's only just beginning."

The winger has recommitted to New Zealand Rugby for another four years. Source: 1 NEWS


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Rieko Ioane on rejecting huge overseas deals to stay in NZ: 'The Black jersey is enough for me'

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has spoken about rejecting lucrative overseas deals to remain in New Zealand, recommitting to NZR with a new four-year deal.

Ioane, 21, and brother Akira signed on the dotted line to remain in New Zealand for the next four years, fronting media at Auckland Airport to explain his decision.

"I want to establish myself in New Zealand," he began.

"The black jersey is enough for me, and is enough to keep me here.

"Rugby is what I love playing, and to play in the best team in the world is motivating enough for me, overseas didn't come into the picture."

The All Blacks star penned a new four-year NZR deal this morning. Source: 1 NEWS


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Kieran Read out, Vaea Fifita recalled for All Blacks' trip to Argentina

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will miss his side's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Buenos Aires, with Wellington flanker Vaea Fifita called in as a replacement.

Read, 32, will be sent straight to South Africa, missing the All Blacks' Argentinian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign, coach Steve Hansen confirmed to media at Auckland Airport today.

"The original plan was always to make sure we don't have him sitting in a plane too long," Hansen began.

"When you go to Argentina then to South Africa, short turnaround, and not a great ride from Argentina to South Africa.

"The smart play is to leave him at home and send him straight to Africa."

Read's absence sees Vaea Fifita return to the side, having originally been overlooked for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign, with the Wellington flanker controversially stating that he didn't understand why he'd been dropped.

"He's always been on our mind," Hansen said of Fifita.

"We've given him the task of going and playing some Mitre 10 Cup, he's done that.

"With Reado not coming we need a replacement, he's the obvious man."

The All Blacks' newest weapon sat out of practice with a sore shoulder today. Source: 1 NEWS


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