Annesley to join NRL football department in 2019
Newly appointed NRL head of elite football operations Graham Annesley will enter the job on a charter to increase transparency as the game's administration has been under more fire than for years – which may include him fronting weekly media briefings to address the game's talking points.
Annesley, who was the NRL chief operating officer from 1998-2011, has announced he is leaving his five-year position as CEO of the Gold Coast Titans to return to Sydney and share the day to day running of the NRL's football business with Brian Canavan.
He is the second Titans supremo to be head-hunted personally by NRL boss Todd Greenberg in the past two years after Canavan was poached in May 2016 after less than four months on the Gold Coast as COO.
Annesley, a former referee with 244 first grade appearances, will oversee the Telstra Premiership, refereeing and women's competitions.
"It has come about quite unexpectedly; I was approached by Todd Greenberg a few weeks ago when he asked me would I accept the role and I had to think about it long and hard," he said on Monday.
Annesley will depart after the Titans have recovered from greater challenges than faced by any NRL competitor in the past five years.
"I had a similar role quite some time ago at the NRL, so I know it will bring its own challenges,'' he said.
"We can't stop mistakes – players make mistakes in every single game; they make dumb calls. Referees make mistakes, the opposition makes mistakes, we are not going to be able to stop that.
"My role is to try to put in place systems and processes that will address that as much as possible and then to be transparent and address it when it happens. Warts and all.
"I have spoken to Todd (Greenberg) about briefings for the media, whether we've have had an ordinary weekend or a good weekend to talk about the great things in the game and the things that do cause controversy.
"I am determined that we have that level of transparency. It doesn't mean the problems will go away or the errors will stop but it means we have to face up to them, address them and try to make sure that we reduce the opportunity for them to happen again.
"I think I have a good perspective of what clubs go through, what match officials go through and what administrators at the NRL go through.
"And hopefully bringing all that together, will give me the background I need to deal with what will be a difficult job.
"I want to be transparent in the new role, particularly with the media and I know Todd will support me in that."
Annesley will leave his Titans post in October at a time, he says, when the club has never been better positioned.
Now privately owned by the Frizelle and Kelly families after the NRL kept it alive for almost three years, he said the Titans will come the closest to break-even financially than it ever has previously, after losing $3 million or more for several years, which is a small deficit compared to most clubs.