The National Rugby League will establish a dedicated Club State Services (CSS) team that will work with clubs to drive new business opportunities and to build long term sustainability.


Club, NSWRL and QRL Chief Executives were today given a complete brief on the CSS which will drive networking opportunities, build greater financial independence and provide strategic assistance in times of economic stress.


It is anticipated that within a few years the net impact of shared services and business networking alone will deliver benefits as high as $10million per annum collectively to the clubs and the leagues.


To have a strong competition you need strong clubs and leagues and you have to have a game-wide commitment to best practice, NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, said today.


This is an investment in working cooperatively with the clubs and leagues to strengthen those businesses and to generate new revenues that will drive membership programs, better game day experiences and growth for the game as a whole.


Tony Crawford has been appointed to establish the Club and State Services team having already played a key role as a consultant in the NRL assisted business restructure at Wests Tigers and in working with St George Illawarra.


The game has not had the benefit of this type of capability before, but this new business unit is set to make a difference, where the NRL and clubs work together to grow, Dragons CEO Peter Doust said today.


Its fair to say that Tony has led the NRL in assisting clubs and was particularly productive in the right game right venue strategy.


The Wests Tigers have been working with the NRL in undertaking a major restructure to resolve long-term issues in the club shareholding as well as a restructure of business operations.


It has been a challenging process, said Grant Mayer, Wests Tigers CEO.


We are all having to accept some change along the way but the involvement of Tony and the NRL has been a really important part of the progress that is being made.


It brings in a level of support that can make a real difference to an individual club.


When you look ahead to concepts such as shared services there are real benefits that can be delivered across every club.
NRL Club Chief Executives have today given full support to the progress of a number of key strategic reviews aimed at strengthening the games pathways, governance and integrity procedures.


The first day of the NRL CEOs Conference of NRL Clubs, NSW and Queensland CEOs demonstrated the significant progress being made across a number of key areas.


NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, opened the conference highlighting the games focus on widening participation, developing stronger financial security for clubs and the game, brand and reputation, fans and members.


Rabbitohs CEO Mr Shane Richardson said that there was clear evidence of progress in addressing these issues.


We are looking carefully into things that we have argued about for years - and that is really positive," Mr Richardson said.


A lot of the work that has been taking place behind the scenes, but you could see today that it is taking real shape in going forward.


NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, said that the meeting was a clear demonstration of how the Chief Executives and the game can work together.


There is a real willingness among the group to step back and look at the overall picture and we are seeing some real benefit from that," Mr Smith said.


There was a real feeling that we are heading in the right direction.


Among the key areas covered today were:


Changes to Club Integrity and Compliance procedures from 2014


Following a detailed review of practices at all clubs, the NRL Operations Manual will require all Clubs to have in place:


A Supplement Committee to:


* Approve all supplements provided to players

* Oversee provision / distribution of supplements

* Provide NRL with a list of approved supplements

* Maintain register of use

* Committee to be comprised of (at least) Club Doctor, Senior member of Club football operations staff, Senior member of Club management

* CEO accountability for Club supplement program

* Club Medication Register

* No injections unless approved by Club Doctor

* No testing for performance enhancing drugs without NRL consent


It will also be required that club doctors will not report directly to the club coach, and will also meet independently with the club board on selected times each year.


The NRL rules are also being strengthened to ensure that they extend to all support staff and game participants and that the NRL will have the ability to reject the registration application of a club official or to de-register a club official.


Pathways


The Chief Executives gave their support to the Pathways Review that will see increased funding and support for State League competitions under an NRL Championship banner from 2014.


State League competitions will be more aligned with the NRL in terms of rules, judiciary, refereeing and welfare and education. The draws will also be more aligned with the NRL Telstra Premiership Draw.


The Holden Cup remains a key part of game day and a key pathway towards the NRL with State League competitions seen as the immediate stepping stone for most players.


Key changes are:


* $10.8m investment in NSW and Queensland State League Clubs over three years

* Creating an NRL Championship Competition played in 2 conferences

* Alignment of both seasons to conclude prior to Grand Final

* National final as a curtain raiser to the Grand Final

* Standardise rules, judiciary and processes across all tiers

* Align the pathway for referees, coaches and managers

* All NRL clubs to be affiliated with a State League team

* Secondary affiliations allowing up to 1/3 of players to compete in another club in either state

* Increased commercial partnerships and stature


The Pathways review has also incorporated a focus on providing pathways for girls and women as well as officials.


Salary Cap Review


The NRL Chief Executives have been advised that proposals for change from the salary cap review will be presented in February.


To date the review has demonstrated a wide spread commitment to the retention of a salary cap and support for the benefits it brings the competition.


Ninety-eight percent of those taking part have rated: talent equalisation; financial stability; the attraction and retention of players and governance and efficiency as the central pillars of the cap.


There was widespread respect for the integrity of the system but concern in relation to its complexity.


A review of international salary cap systems as well as a thorough examination of the NRL salary cap has led to a position being reached on a number of commonly raised issues.


Proposals on a range of issues are now under detailed consideration, including:


* Veteran Player allowances

* The ability for individual NRL discretion in recognising a key players commercial value to the game

* Third part