New Panthers CEO Corey Payne with Penrith general manager Phil Gould.

Simple request led to new Panthers CEO

Penrith's new rugby league CEO Corey Payne has revealed his request to visit the Panthers' new Rugby League Academy to club supremo Phil Gould was the impetus behind the 31-year-old getting the job.

Payne heard of the "amazing" facility through club sponsor Brydens Lawyers after Gould offered key stakeholders a sneak peek into the Academy a few weeks ago. 

The former NRL player sent Gould an email requesting a tour of Penrith's new facilities two weeks ago which got the ball rolling for Payne's quick appointment at the Panthers. 

"It's probably the best training facility in the southern hemisphere and the best opportunity to attract, develop and retain talent in rugby league," Payne said.

"I was excited by it and I asked Gus 'who is going to be leading the show here?' and 'who is the CEO?' and he said they're looking for one. 

"That's when I told him I'd be pretty interested in having a discussion about that to which Gus responded: 'be careful for what you wish for'. 

"When he said that I had a good think about it and I got back in touch and said I wanted to explore this opportunity because I thought I was the right person for the role.” 

It didn't take Gould long to realise that Payne was the "perfect fit" for the job.

Payne retired from rugby league at 28 to pursue a Master of Commerce at the University of Sydney.

Payne since has also been the recipient of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship and NSW's Young Australian of the Year.

These awards allowed him to travel the world and conduct research into how sport can be used for social change and capacity building within communities. 

Payne also is the founder of the Future Direction Network – an organisation that aims to raise the aspirations of youth from South-West Sydney to pursue tertiary education.

"I always thought of Corey as destined for different things, bigger things. I even said that to him at the time. I said why would you want to do this job? But he was so passionate about it and he actually knew a lot more about us than I thought he did," Gould said. 

"It all of a sudden dawned on me it was a perfect fit. We all talk about sporting administrators and people claim that some just don't have a feel for the game or a knowledge of the game. He ticked all those boxes. 

"This has been his direction from the time he went to university that this is where he wanted to be. And the experiences he's gained globally and the way he talks to me about business, the commercialising of sport, the business of sport, it's exactly what we need. 

"We're in a perfect position with the foundations in place for a very strong commercially and corporate-minded CEO to come in and take this club to the new level. I can't do that. Corey Payne can do that and that's why he's our new CEO."

Payne said the club's three growth pillars in the new Academy, the club's rugby league nursery and the Panthers Complete League Coach app remain a huge part behind his excitement of joining the club. 

"When you walk around this Panthers Rugby League Academy you'll see how high-quality it is. Further to that you have absolute fantastic talent pipeline with the largest junior league nursery in the country," Payne said.

"They have won two of the past five under 20s competition and this club has produced more first graders than any other NRL team in the past three years. It's truly set up for success. 

"Then there's a Panthers coaching app that is coming to the front. The unknown potential of that in getting a capability uplift across junior league and the way we track, nurture and benchmark talent is exciting. 

"Those three pillars have left this club in a really good state and I'm well and truly excited to join the club."