Super League yesterday consolidated on an encouraging start to the new season by promoting its marketing director, Ian Robson, to the role of chief executive.
The 39-year-old, who is a former chief executive of both the Auckland Warriors and the Australian Super League, has been filling the role since Maurice Lindsay's departure in November 1999. Chris Caisley, the chairman of Super League, said: "The board welcomes Ian Robson's appointment at a time when the Tetley's Bitter Super League is going from strength to strength. The weekly average match attendance is currently showing a solid increase on last year. The present figure is 7,730 which is a 23 per cent increase on the 1999 regular season." Meanwhile, Warrington have reported a 54 per cent increase on their crowds so far, with 21,822 watching their first three matches compared to 14,155 in 1999.
Frank Endacott, the New Zealand coach, has been forced to make a string of changes to his preferred starting line-up for tomorrow's Anzac Day Test against Australia in Sydney.
Endacott described his preparations for the one-off game as the worst he could remember as he named his team yesterday. The halfback Henry Paul will play out of position at centre after Willie Talau (ankle) and former captains Jarrod McCracken (thigh) and Quentin Pongia (bicep) were ruled out with injury earlier this week.
NEW ZEALAND (v Australia, Sydney, tomorrow): Barnett (capt); Vainikolo, H Paul, Blackmore, Vagana; R Paul, Jones; Smith, Kearney, Rua, Smith, Swain, Vagana. Replacements: Lowrie, Puletua, Kidwell, Lavea.