Sydney - Australian Rugby's new chief executive Raelene Castle believes the country's Super Rugby franchises must perform better as a matter of urgency.
Castle was making her first official statement after succeeding Bill Pulver and becoming the first female chief executive of a major football code in Australia.
However, Castle's task is not an easy one. Australian rugby reached arguably its lowest point last season, its franchises failing to win in 26 Super Rugby attempts against New Zealand opposition.
Then there was the ongoing off-field saga over which franchise would be cut and the infighting that resulted around that.
”There need to be better performances in Super Rugby this year,“ Castle told reporters in Sydney. ”That’s the way that builds the platform for what people expect and how they engage with rugby.
”(We want to see) some stability and some moving forward that people can see across ... the performance of the Wallabies, community engagement, making sure we’ve got some strong commercial programmes in place.
“Those’ll be the measures across the sport that people will say, ‘what does success look like in the first 12 months?'”
She then focused on the issue of player poaching and emphasised the need to keep hold of the brightest young talent in Australia and make sure they remain in Rugby Union.
“If we’re developing the talent, we want to make sure we keep hold of the best of them in that place where they’re playing schoolboy rugby,” she said.
”We need to make sure we’re capturing those athletes as they move into that semi-professional and professional space.
“That is an important transition - we have lost too many to rugby league over the time, so that is something we’ll be looking to make sure we shore up.”