Former South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire will bring a football perspective to refereeing and the way match officials prepare after being appointed to a new position with the NRL next season.
Maguire will take on the role of High Performance Coach – Officiating and Leadership, and work alongside Bernard Sutton, who assumes day-to-day running of the elite referees group and the NRL Bunker as Senior Manager – Officiating.
Tony Archer will retain the General Manager – Officiating role but his position has been expanded to oversee the national structure rather than just the elite group of NRL match officials.
Maguire, who guided the Rabbitohs to the 2014 premiership and also took Wigan to Super League glory in 2010, said his role would include developing and implementing high-performance programs for match officials.
"Every athlete needs to be prepared to perform at their best so I will be looking at those areas that can improve the officiating space, right down from their nutrition to all areas that can allow them to be more focused," Maguire told NRL.com.
"It is their preparation away from the 80-minute game, it is how they are working in the gym, it is how they are bringing their mental state to the right levels – I think all of that plays a part in performance."
He will also work closely with the NRL football department, while acting as a leadership consultant to NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, Head of Football Brian Canavan and Head of People and Culture Rebecca Doyle.
"I have got a passion for growing the game and I think we are in a pretty good position to take the game forward now," Maguire said.
"The players are all sorted now [with the collective bargaining agreement], the clubs have got their funding, the women's game is growing and we are looking at new stadiums so I think it is a really exciting time for the game."
While his main focus will be refereeing, Maguire made it clear that Sutton would be in charge of NRL match officials with Archer overseeing officiating across the game.
"Bernie is a very good operator, he is very good at what he does and between he and I we are trying to grow that officiating space," Maguire said.
"My main role is to support Bernie and also to bring an expertise from a club perspective into NRL officiating. I am looking forward to bringing a different insight into the group.
"We have a national pathway now for referees that hasn't happened before. Officiating is one of the tougher jobs so young men and young women will have some great opportunities to come into this space."
An appointments panel, led by Sutton, is in the process of being put together, to determine the appointment of match officials each week.
"He will lead the officials on a day-to-day basis and will also focus on the technical aspect of officiating," Canavan said of Sutton.
Canavan said the new structure, which includes Robert Finch taking the role of senior manager – education, development and pathways, was designed to improve officiating and pathways nationally.
"Tony Archer's role will focus on the national programs, integrating education, development, recruitment, retention and high performance programs," he said.
"I think he is ideally placed to develop the national structure."
Meanwhile, Maguire said he eventually hoped to return to coaching but was looking forward to the new challenge.
"If the right role came up I would definitely consider it but it would have to be the right role," he said. "There has obviously been some discussions around other coaching opportunities previously but they weren't the right roles for me.
"I have learned a lot since I have stepped away from club land but at this current moment I am very excited about what I am going into. I am really looking forward to helping out across the game."