Group Three Rugby League’s new chief executive Mal Drury knows he’s taking on a demanding and high pressure position.
Mr Drury has officially replaced the long-serving Barrie Smith. Mr Smith was to step aside at the group’s annual meeting in November, but with Mr Drury due to undergo knee replacement surgery, Mr Smith stayed on in a temporary capacity.
Mr Drury is now hale and hearty and ready to tackle the role, although he admits the magnitude of the job initially surprised him.
"A couple of times I’ve thought, ‘Jesus, what have I taken on here,’ ’’ he said.
“I was surprised with what goes on behind the scenes and what’s involved.
“I know there’ll be challenges, but Barrie’s just a phone call away and he’s already been a great help.’’
Mr Drury has a varied background in administration. A centre, he played junior league with Chatham Cundle, progressing to grade with Taree Old Bar. However, a knee injury ended his playing days when he was 25, although he later played representative touch football.
“I wanted to stay involved (in league) so I got my referee’s ticket,’’ he explained.
“But I wasn’t as keen on refereeing, so I got into administration with (Taree) Old Bar when I took over as secretary.’’
He’s also president of the Taree West Men’s Bowling Club, while he's chairman of the Zone 11 bowls zone match committee as well as a member of the Group Three referees appointment board.
“That doesn’t take much time,’’ he said of his role with the referees.
“I go to the games anyway and we meet for an hour or so during the week to make the appointments. I’m happy to stay involved with the appointments if they want me.’’
He was first approached by Mr Smith and Group Three board member Charlie Andrews about 18 months ago to take on the CEO position when Mr Smith first signaled his desire to step down. Mr Drury has no intention of relinquishing his bowling commitments at club or zone level. This will include playing pennants with Taree West.
“Saturday will be my bowls day,’’ Mr Drury said.
He’s completed his first major task for Group Three by getting a provisional draw for 2019 out to clubs.
“Barrie has a program for doing the draws,’’ he said.
“I’ve had experience with putting draws together with the (zone) match committee.’’
Relations between the clubs and the group executive can be volatile. Mr Drury believes the fact he isn’t aligned to any current club could be a circuit breaker when controversies erupt, as invariably will happen.
“I met most of the club officials at the annual meeting and they were all pretty good,’’ he said.
“I’ve got experienced people around me on the group’s management. I’ll struggle sometimes, but I’m confident I’ll get there in the end.’’