The NRL have announced the appointment of Shane Richardson to drive strategic game-related projects that create the right game structure and opportunities for future growth.
NRL Chief Executive Officer Dave Smith said Mr Richardson would take up the new position of Head of Game Strategy and Development at the beginning of March.
He will be responsible for delivering key projects that support growth and development across all forms of the game from the grassroots and schools through to the elite and international levels.
Key priorities for 2015 include:
• Considering the growth of the game's footprint and its competition structures
• In conjunction with the states and affiliates, developing a blueprint for grassroots junior and senior football across Australia and New Zealand
• Considering how we better develop elite players across the different regions and clubs to protect and spread talent, including considering the game's options for a Rookie Draft system
Mr Smith said the newly-created role would ensure a senior person was dedicated to developing rugby league's growth as a game and the structure of the sport in all its forms.
"We have built tremendous momentum over the past couple of years and there has never been a more important time for this role as we head into the next broadcast and digital rights deals," Mr Smith said.
"This initiative is all about working on strategic game-related projects across the organisation that are focussed on identifying further opportunities for growth, and creating modern structures, that set the sport up for decades to come.
"As a game, we have taken big steps forward in unlocking the potential in Rugby League and that was just the start - now there is an opportunity for even better things to happen.
"We have a very clear objective to keep building long-term value in Rugby League to ensure we are well placed to secure our future as a major and valuable sport so that we can keep reinvesting in the game.
"It is a sign of the game's maturity that we are now in a position to ensure a focus on projects that have the potential to be game changers and set ourselves up for the future."
One of the most senior administrators in Rugby League, Mr Richardson said he was excited about joining the NRL at such an important time.
Mr Richardson has been in his current role as CEO of the South Sydney Rabbitohs for 11 years.
"I have been involved in the game for more than 50 years either playing, coaching or in administration in Australia and the United Kingdom," Mr Richardson said.
"I am excited about the opportunity to bring that experience to the NRL at such a critical time in its evolution.
"There are big things happening in Rugby League and this role gives me the opportunity to be part of it right at the centre so that I can make a difference to its long-term future."