13 Dec 2017

Castle playing down 'groundbreaker' tag

6:27 am on 13 December 2017

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.

Former Netball NZ and Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle has become the first female chief executive of Rugby Australia.

Former Netball NZ and Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle has become the first female chief executive of Rugby Australia. Photo: Photosport Ltd

The former Canterbury National Rugby League chief executive and and head of Netball New Zealand was appointed to the role on Tuesday and will take up her new role in the middle of next month.

She will be the first female boss of any of the national governing bodies of the four major football codes in Australia but she is dismisses her watershed appointment as simply media fascination maintaining the sport already has gender equality.

The Wagga Wagga born New Zealander says her time at the Bulldogs has helped her understand the Australian sporting landscape and working with coach Des Hasler who has a strong personality will help her forge a relationship with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Castle said her 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.

"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."