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HomeAustralia and New ZealandShane Richardson to lead resuscitation of Wests Tigers following CEO and board overhaul

Shane Richardson to lead resuscitation of Wests Tigers following CEO and board overhaul

Shane Richardson to lead resuscitation of Wests Tigers following CEO and board overhaul

Veteran rugby league administrator Shane Richardson has assumed the challenging role of overseeing the revival of beleaguered NRL club Wests Tigers, following the en masse sacking of their board and the resignation of maligned CEO Justin Pascoe.

Richardson’s has been appointed as interim chief executive after Pascoe stepped down amid scrutiny of the club’s culture and governance after another disappointing season in 2023.

The Tigers, having endured a tough period and finishing last in the NRL for the second straight year with just four wins, faced a comprehensive off-season review initiated by the Holman Barnes Group, the board’s controlling faction.

The review led to Pascoe’s departure after eight years in his role, as well as the dismissal of Tigers chair Lee Hagipantelis and the entire seven-person board. Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell will assume the interim chair position.

Despite the widespread criticism faced by Hagipantelis and Pascoe in recent months – from fans, pundits and the media – the Holman Barnes Group acknowledged their contributions in establishing a strong foundation for the future.

“Lee and Justin faced enormous challenges, but they have left a legacy which gives us a strong base for the future,” Holman Barnes Group chairman Tony Andreacchio said.

“In particular, they leave us with a world-class centre of excellence and the club is in a stronger financial position because of the relationships they established with sponsors and other supporters.

“But one thing is clear – this club is determined to provide the leadership required to be successful in the NRL.”

The Tigers, determined to turn their fortunes around, have appointed Benji Marshall as the new head coach, making him the fourth coach in six years. Marshall was a 2023 assistant to returning head coach Tim Sheens – who led the club to its only premiership, of which Marshall was a key player – with a view to taking over in 2025, but his elevation to the hotseat has been fast-tracked.

O’Farrell will lead a four-person interim board comprising representatives from Holman Barnes, as well as the two merger clubs, Balmain and Wests.

Shane Richardson, renowned as one of the game’s most respected administrators, faces a significant task in resurrecting the Tigers.

With a successful track record, including turning around Cronulla’s fortunes in the 1990s, helping guide Penrith to a premiership in 2003 and steering South Sydney to decade-long success, Richardson brings a wealth of experience to the role. His leadership during the Rabbitohs’ long climb back to respectability and the subsequent 2014 title victory – their first in 43 years – highlights his ability to navigate challenging situations.

Richardson’s immediate focus will be on collaborating with new head coach Marshall to revitalise the squad. The Tigers are rumoured to be eyeing marquee player acquisitions, including Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake and Penrith playmaker Jarome Luai. Richardson’s alignment with Marshall will be crucial in avoiding the pitfalls of the past and steering the club toward a more promising future.

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