A review of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign has commenced this week with the appointment of an independent panel.

Review chair Tim Castle – an international sports barrister and adjudicator, and elite player manager; together with Raelene Castle (no relation) – the former Chief Executive of Netball New Zealand and the NRL Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs; will consider the performance of the players and team management, and will interview an informed and representative group of individuals connected with this year’s World Cup campaign.

“We were all disappointed with the Kiwis’ performance and need to understand what went wrong,” said NZRL chairman Reon Edwards.

“A thorough independent review is essential if we’re to get it right for the next World Cup.”

He said consideration of the current coaching eligibility rule, whereby the national coach must be a New Zealander would be but one of the matters reviewed by the panel.

Panel chair, Tim Castle said he and co-panellist Raelene Castle felt very privileged to undertake the independent review.

“We recognise the sport at all levels is integral to many communities around the country, and we’re approaching the task with a positive and constructive frame of mind.

“Raelene and I will be rigorous and independent with our review, our findings and our recommendations.”

Reon Edwards confirmed the independent panel’s findings would be released in February / March along with the four-year Strategic Plan that the NZRL has been working on for the past 8 months.

“The review will input into the NZRL’s Strategic Plan, which is well evolved and has been focusing on the delivery of better outcomes for the game.

“The plan establishes our strategic direction – setting out significant steps to build on and improve the game in New Zealand, from a core focus at a grassroots level through to our high-performance programmes and the Kiwis.”

While the plan is close to being finalised, Edwards said the NZRL Board has deliberately postponed its release until the conclusion of the panel’s review.

“Spending another couple of months on the review will allow us to set the best plan possible for the next four years.

“We completely understand how the New Zealand League community, including players and coaches, feel about this World Cup performance by our Kiwis team.

“We all want our team to be successful and we need to ensure we do and have everything we need to achieve what we all desperately want – to be best in the world.”

Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin said: “Sport NZ welcomes the review and credits New Zealand Rugby League for the process they are undertaking and the calibre of experts it has assembled.

“The campaign was disappointing and it’s important the team and sport rebound. We want the Kiwis to be winning, and through their success be inspiring young people to play the game and play it well.

“Tim and Raelene bring a wealth of expertise and give the review the best possible chance of achieving these outcomes.”


To review the Kiwis campaign at RLWC17 with the primary objective to capture material learnings, both positive and negative, from the campaign and provide recommendations to the Board that will inform:
• planning and preparation for future campaigns, and
• the development of NZRL’s High Performance strategy 2018-2021.


The NZRL’s Kiwis campaign preparation and performance for RLWC17 including, but not limited to, the following:
• preparations and planning for RLWC17;
• resources committed to the campaign both human & financial;
• leadership and capability;
• coach selection policy;
• player selection policies;
• management of player culture and welfare;
• tournament logistics;
• game plans, implementation and evaluation;
• RLIF and RLWC17 local organising committee rules and regulations.

An international sports barrister and adjudicator, and elite player manager; Tim Castle brings valuable insight into high performance sport issues, which are the subject of the NZRL panel’s review.
For more than a decade he has managed numerous professional elite athletes including the former All Blacks the late Jerry Collins, Keven Mealamu, Rodney So’oialo, and Neemia Tialata. He also manages current Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant and in New Zealand Olympic athlete Nick Willis.
With regards to rugby league, in 2010 Tim was brought in by Sport New Zealand as an independent mediator to successfully facilitate the serious organisational re- structuring dispute between the NZRL and Auckland Rugby League.
Tim’s extensive involvement in sports leadership includes being the first Vice President (the effective chair) of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, board member of the New Zealand Sports Foundation, New Zealand’s inaugural representative on the International Cricket Council Corruption Commission, and was an inaugural appointee to the New Zealand Sports Tribunal – a position held for eight years,
Since 1991 Tim has been an appointee to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (the first from New Zealand, Australia and Oceania), which remains the world’s principal sports disputes Tribunal; and has presided over cases involving doping, match fixing and international athlete eligibility disputes.

Raelene is the former Chief Executive of Netball New Zealand and most recently was Chief Executive of the NRL’s Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
She was a Board Member of the International Netball Federation and the Chair of the NRL CEO group.
Raelene has previously worked in the marketing, sales, sponsorship and communications areas for a number of leading New Zealand companies including Telecom, BNZ, Southern Cross Healthcare and Fuji Xerox.
Recognised with a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award in 2011, Raelene was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2015.