Rugby League: Tunnicliffe sets out agenda for tenure

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The Independent Online
Neil Tunnicliffe has been given three months to show that the game should look no further for its new chief executive. The 34-year-old with a doctorate in ancient history from Oxford stepped up into the job on a trial basis following the resignation of Maurice Lindsay, under pressure from the League's board of directors, this week.

"I've been given three months to prove myself, and also to see whether the role suits me," said Tunnicliffe as he settled into the task at Red Hall in Leeds.

Although he is a Lindsay protege, promoted to the position of deputy only last month, Tunnicliffe's style will be radically different.

"We need to get away from the situation where the outside world knows who the chief executive of the Rugby Football League is but not the Great Britain captain," he said. "If, at the end of three months, people don't have a clue who I am, but know all about Andy Farrell and Kris Radlinski, I will be well pleased."

Tunnicliffe said he was not worried about the possibility of a Super League breakaway, now that Lindsay and the Bradford Bulls and Super League chairman, Chris Caisley - often at odds with each other in the past - were now firmly in the same camp. "What we are working towards is the same sort of relationship that exists between the Premiership and the Football Association," he said.

Lindsay is in the same building at Red Hall, working for Super League, and is expected to be confirmed in the new role of managing director of the organisation over the weekend, without the need for a planned meeting of clubs next week. Some clubs have expressed concern over the funding for the job, however, which comes out of RFL coffers.

Malcolm White, the chairman of Swinton, has criticised the role of the League's chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, in asking Lindsay to resign. His departure, he said, could be "the death knell for lower division clubs".

Phil Clarke, the former Great Britain loose forward, has taken over duties as chief executive at Wigan. One of his first jobs could be to fly to Brisbane to sort out the transfer wrangle surrounding Wendell Sailor, the Bronco and Australia Test winger.