Collins brings valuable experience to CEO role
Taking on the Canterbury Rugby League CEO position represents a long-held ambition becoming a reality for Shane Collins, but her vast experience in the management and sporting spheres shape as the perfect fit for the code as well.
“For me it’s a bit of a dream job in many ways. Getting back into grassroots sports is something I’m really passionate about, which is why I applied for this role,” Collins says.
“With my background – having been involved in grassroots sports in other countries and other codes – getting into the rugby league community here is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Born in Ranfurly and educated in Dunedin and Christchurch, Collins represented the New Zealand women’s hockey team in 36 internationals from 1985-94, encompassing the Black Sticks’ 1992 Barcelona Olympics campaign – an experience she describes as a career highlight.
Collins held several high-ranking management positions with New Zealand Police in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland, before moving to England in 2004 and completing a PhD in Sport Policy at Loughborough University, while also providing consulting services to a range of sporting organisations in the UK, Brazil, India and Zambia.
Her expertise was then utilised as a lecturer of International Sport Comparative Policy at Durham University from 2008-11.
“I’ve got quite a broad experience in the management side of things, combined with having been involved with looking at sports generally, so I’ve got a good understanding of key issues,” Collins says.
“Even when I haven’t been directly involved, I certainly haven’t been out of touch with sporting organisations and sportspeople along the way.
“That’s going to be something I can bring, melding my experience with the strengths of Canterbury Rugby League, and I think it will be a really good match.”
Collins relocated back to Christchurch in 2011, holding management roles with the Earthquake Commission for four and a half years, while she has been the Programme Manager for the CERA Transition with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet since November last year.
Her work connected with the rebuild and regeneration of Christchurch ensures she is keenly aware of the challenges the region has faced over the past five years and, more specifically to her new role with Canterbury Rugby League, the hardships endured by grassroots sport in Canterbury.
“I understand the frustrations. It has been a long time for many sports, trying to get back to where they were.
“That’s something I’m certainly cognisant of and having that experience is going to be helpful.”
But Collins links up with the CRL at an exciting juncture for rugby league in the region.
The Penrith Panthers’ commitment to bring NRL football back to Christchurch, along with the potential new home for the code at Nga Puna Wai, the prospect of a Christchurch-based team in a second-tier Australian competition, and the likely hosting of 2017 Rugby League World Cup games highlight the resurgence of rugby league in Canterbury.
“That’s a real key – Canterbury Rugby League is making great steps forward. It’s not a sport that you would call stagnant at all,” Collins enthuses.
“That’s what’s exciting. It’s got a great community base, it’s getting a lot of foundation blocks in place and I’m looking forward to helping build on those.
“It’s vital Canterbury Rugby League makes the most of the opportunities it has been presented with, and I see that as an integral part of my role.”
Collins finishes up in her current role in late-June, before assuming the CRL CEO’s post on July 11, and she is enthusiastic about getting the lay of the land and engaging with the local rugby league community at all levels.
“The key thing I want to do, once I get my feet under the table, is get out there and talk to people and listen to them,” she says.
“I want to talk to as many people as I can and keep grassroots rugby league’s momentum going.
“One of the most important aspects will be making sure there is good communication throughout the Canterbury Rugby League community”.
“We want everyone to know what’s going on and make sure everyone has a voice as we move forward.”