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Young introduced as new NRL COO

NRL CEO Dave Smith says rugby league will continue to ride the momentum of a "strong season" in 2014 after announcing Suzanne Young as the game's new second-in-command on Monday. 

Young got her feet wet on her first day by meeting with reporters at Rugby League Central, where she took questions on her professional history, sporting background, and the increasing role of women in rugby league. 

But it was her new boss who described the recruitment of the senior finance executive as an "invaluable" addition to the game. 

"The journey has only really just begun and Suzanne and I have only had brief conversations about what the early priorities are, but I think it's a continuation of some of the momentum that we've seen," Smith said. 

"We've had a strong season this year. We're a big game and we have a big part to play across Australia and hopefully that gets bigger. It's a continuation of the work that we've started. Suzanne's experience across big, complex, public organisations will be absolutely invaluable."

Young, who hails from Riverina in western NSW, has held managerial posts at Leighton Holdings, Commonwealth Bank, and Qantas. 

And with the game operating as a multi-billion dollar corporation, Smith sees the appointment of Young as an astute one. 

"This is a corporate services job [and] we're a very big organisation. We're a $3 billion corporation. [With] over 11 years experience in the football department, that's where I'd expect football issues to be dealt with," he said. 

"This is about helping to steer the organisation across corporate services and Suzanne is uniquely qualified for that."

Young, who was the Australian Surf Life Saver of the Year in 1996 and also currently holds the Chair of the Indigenous Education committee, said she was delighted to join what she labelled the "premier" sport in Australia. 

"I grew up in country NSW and have a sports background. Sport is part of my DNA. In fact, probably my first sporting injury was breaking my nose playing rugby league. I went to a small country primary school and you have to play every sport at lunchtime," she said. 

"I have an extensive sports background through boarding school, university, and continue that today. My children play sport, I've been a participant, I've been a coach, I have been a manager. I have been an official in sport and, as Dave did mention, I was on the board of Surf Lifesaving Australia. 

"I'm delighted to be here today. I'm looking forward to meeting my peers, meeting the clubs, working with them in this great game, the premier sport in Australia."

While she has no previous experience working in rugby league administration, Young says she will apply the skills accrued from her previous placements, including being on the board of Surf Lifesaving Australia. 

"I certainly have lots of background in other sports administration in terms of surf, and I will apply the skills that I've learnt both through surf lifesaving... but also my corporate skills that I've applied," she said. 

On the growing influence of women in the NRL, Young said: "There are already lots of women involved in the code. There are lots of women who are managers of teams, who are coaches of teams, who are volunteers, who do canteen duties, all sorts of things that women are involved in. So I'm not the first women to be involved in the league, and I hope to make a significant contribution just as they have done."