Following a more than six month search, Penrith have announced former NRL forward Corey Payne as their new Rugby League CEO.
The 31-year-old, who will be the youngest CEO in the game, steps into the role which has been vacant since the departure of current Wests Tigers boss Justin Pascoe late last year.
“I’m very excited by the opportunity to join the Panthers,” Payne said.
“Over the last five years Phil Gould has put the club back in a financially viable position, ensured the salary cap is in good shape and established solid foundations on which we can build for the future.
“There is a fantastic feeling about the club and I’m looking forward to being part of it.”
Payne played 131 games for the St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs over the course of eight seasons in the NRL.
Having obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney, he retired from the game in 2012 to complete his Masters of Commerce and pursue a career in business.
As a recipient of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship, Payne travelled to a number of countries conducting research into how sport can be used for social change and capacity building with the community.
Payne is also the Founder of the Future Direction Network, an organisation that aims to raise the ambition and aspiration of youth from south west Sydney to pursue university education.
In 2013 he was named NSW Young Australian of the Year, and most recently he worked for Woolworths Limited as a Transformation Manager.
Payne said Panthers supporters had many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the club.
“With the opening of the Panthers Rugby League Academy, the club now boasts the best training facility in the southern hemisphere, providing us with opportunity to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the game,” Payne said.
“Penrith is home to the largest junior rugby league nursery in the country and the club is now in a position to effectively harness that strong talent pipeline for sustained success.
“Finally the Panthers have a young and skilful NRL team that can achieve something special, not just in the near future, but over the long-term.”
Panthers Executive Manager Rugby League, Phil Gould, hailed Payne’s appointment as a significant coup for the club.
“With rugby league in his blood and his passion for the game, this position could already be seen as a natural fit for both Corey and the Panthers,” Gould said.
“Panthers is a club of the future. We are delighted that Corey Payne will now be the man to help guide that future and achieve the high aspirations we have for this club.”
The appointment of Payne will complete a restructure of Penrith’s management team with Brian Fletcher already in place as Group CEO and David O’Neill the new Chairman.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.