Women in League: Louise Lanigan
Before Wayne Bennett is allowed to add an Adam Blair, James Roberts or emerging youngster to his roster he first has to seek permission from Louise Lanigan – and he doesn't always get it.
Lanigan (married name Louise Bukowski) has been an integral part of the running of the Brisbane Broncos for the past 16 years and having joined as Chief Financial Officer in 2000 now fills the roles of Salary Cap Manager and Company Secretary.
Maintaining a three-year rolling spreadsheet that tracks player contracts and salary cap spend, Lanigan is a member of Brisbane's recruitment committee where she regularly meets with Bennett, recruitment chief Peter Nolan, CEO Paul White and director Darren Lockyer to decide what money can be spent and when.
For a woman who grew up in a strong rugby league household with two brothers, is married to a former Western Suburbs first grader who Bennett once coached and has a son in his sixth year of rugby league, saying no to the master coach may seem daunting but she says it is all part of the job.
"Yes we have [said no], and he might say, 'Work out a way to do it', which might mean not signing someone else," Lanigan tells NRL.com.
"Pete and Wayne look closely at who we need, we'll identify players that we want to keep, who we want to buy but they won't make a decision without coming to me first.
"I have to veto any offer that goes out to players. They basically won't speak to a manager and talk any numbers without speaking to me first.
"Wayne will say, 'I want this person,' and Pete and I will go away and look at the numbers and work out what our ballpark is of what we can afford to offer. That's how it starts.
"We've got a salary cap calculation for '16, '17, 18' and '19 as we speak and we'll look at the list and see where our positional weaknesses are, what type of player we should be looking for in the market or to pull up from our own development program.
"I'm usually the worst-case scenario person, which you've got to be in a salary cap environment because you can't take gambles.
"It's really bad publicity when your club breaches the salary cap and being the salary cap manager your professional reputation is on the line."
A chartered accountant, graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Broncos fan since their inception in 1988, Lanigan was initially reluctant to join such a high-profile organisation.
As they are again today, the Broncos were the biggest game in town when a mutual colleague suggested she go for the position of CFO back in 2000, Lanigan thankful that she mustered the courage to meet with then CEO Shane Edwards.
"I was a bit nervous because of the high-profile nature of the business when I came in," Lanigan admits.
"The job sounded amazing and I thought it was worth seeing how far I could go with it and I was offered the role.
"They were the biggest club in Brisbane and I was a bit worried about the expectations when I got here but behind closed doors it is such a beautiful family-inclusive place to be. I really felt at home from the first time I walked through the doors and I've never changed that feeling.
"There hasn't been a day where I've woken up in the morning and not wanted to come to work. Behind the big bravado of the Broncos brand, it's actually a really intimate, family-orientated, inclusive place to be with great people and great support.
"I've often said that I don't think I could go and accept a job anywhere else because nothing could measure up to what I've experienced here. Nothing could top working here."
Following the birth of her third son in 2011 Lanigan came to the realisation that twin roles as full-time executive and full-time mother could not co-exist but the Broncos restructured her role so as not to lose her from the business completely.
"She is the perfect example of how a highly qualified, talented and professional woman can have a long and rewarding career in rugby league while continuing to care for a young family," says Broncos CEO Paul White.
"She is a woman of substance, integrity and strength and takes enormous pride in everything she does."
Lanigan's eldest son Cameron is captain of the Easts Juniors under-11s in Brisbane and yet despite rupturing his ACL recently is still driven to training twice a week and to the games on weekends so he can stay involved with the team.
It's the juggle every working mum knows all too well and why Lanigan is so appreciative for the flexibility and support the Broncos have offered her over the past decade.
"Something had to give because I felt I wasn't being the best mother or the best CFO," Lanigan says of the time her third son was born.
"It's allowed me, as a professional female, to continue on my career path to achieve what I've achieved in my professional life.
"As the years have gone the salary cap has got more complex and you're always on call, seven days a week because a lot happens in the player movement area. It's not just a three-day-a-week job.
"You don't have to be just playing on the field to ride the roller-coaster of what you go through at a footy club.
"You do ride the highs and the lows and I can't imagine working anywhere else."