About Us

NZRL Staff


Chief Executive Officer
Phil Holden
Ph: +64 9 525 5592
Email: phil@nzrl.co.nz

As CEO of NZRL Phil is the leader of the overall strategic direction and running of the organisation. He came to NZRL after 6 1/2 years as CEO of the Lion Foundation. Prior to this Phil was CEO of Coffee Connection and held senior roles at Cerebos Gregg's NZ and Lion Breweries.

Phil has had extensive involvement in sport and sports management through roles with the ARFU & Auckland Diamonds Netball franchise.





Administration Manager
Dana Corlett
PH: +64 9 571 3877
Ext: 727
Email:  admin@nzrl.co.nz





General Manager High Performance
Tony Iro
Ph:+64 9 525 5592
Email:  tony.iro@nzrl.co.nz

Tony played almost 250 first-grade games - for teams including Wigan, Manly, Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney - as well as 25 Tests for the Kiwis between 1988-1998. His most recent coaching position was as assistant coach at the Vodafone Warriors, while his administrative experience with the Kiwis dates back to 2005, when he was first appointed a national selector. He has held a variety of positions with the Kiwis since, mostly recently holding the dual roles of selector and assistant coach. He'll continue in both those posts, while working with the coaches around the country and assist with preparing the Kiwis for the RLWC2013.








National Game Development Manager
Nadene Conlon
Ph: +64 9 571 3853
Email: nadene @nzrl.co.nz


National Coaching Manager
Dean Watkins
Ph: +64 9 571 3860
Ext: 710
Email: dean@nzrl.co.nz

Dean joined NZRL after four years with North Harbour Rugby. There his role incorporated player and coach development across the spectrum - junior club, Secondary School & Senior Club. He developed and managed the North Harbour U16 and U18 Development Academies, and coached at U14 and U18 representative levels. During his rugby career he represented Manawatu and Canterbury Maori before heading overseas to take up contracts in Ireland, Scotland and South Africa. On finishing his playing career he completed a teaching degree at Auckland College of Education and taught for 5 years before returning to sport with the North Harbour Rugby Union. Dean is married and has two children.


Operations & Competitions Manager
Ron Pereira
PH: +64 9 571 3871
Ext: 721
Email ron@nzrl.co.nz

Ron started work with NZRL in November 2013. In his role he is looking after the operations of the National Competition, NZRL tournaments and events, the LeagueNet database, Judiciary, and providing general operational support to the game.

Ron comes to the NZRL with extensive experience in events operations in the hospitality and entertainment industries. He is looking forward to getting to know the role, you - our people, our stakeholders and contributing to the development of our game.


NRL / NZRL Wellbeing and Education Manager
Joe Harawira
Ph: +64 9 571 3869
Ext: 719
Email: joe.harawira@nzrl.co.nz

Nowadays, we are seeing more players relocate than ever. This is one of the key reasons the NRL/NZRL established Joe's role. He works across the Australian-based NRL clubs and NZ Rugby League zones to prepare players and their families for the demands of relocating. This is driven by a need to alleviate social and cultural isolation associated with relocating. Ultimately, we want to create an environment where young men have the best possible opportunity to succeed, both on and off the field.

Prior to joining NZRL Joseph was employed by ACC as the Programme Manager for Sports Injury Prevention and managed national programmes with the NZRL and NZRU. Joseph has previously served in the New Zealand Army having deployed on operational tours of East Timor and Bosnia. Joseph has an  MBA, Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science, is qualified in PRINCE 2 , and has an Australian Cert IV in Career Development.




National Referee Development Manager
Luke Watts
Ph: +64 9 571 3859
Ext: 709
Email: luke@nzrl.co.nz

As National Referee Development Officer Luke's focus is on improving and growing the profile of referees, building a stronger referee coaching and communication network, creating pathways for NZ match officials into NRL and International refereeing and ensuring that the match officials experience is positive for all those involved.

Luke played for the East Coast Bays Barracudas from the age of six; his first career ambition was to be a professional league player in England. He moved through the grades playing Auckland Colts and trained in the Warriors Development Squad in 2002. Ultimately injuries and self professed "lack of talent" saw Luke implement his plan B and moved into a career in local government working as a Logistics Manager, Business Analyst and Operations Support Manager.

Luke has a Bachelor of Business Studies from Massey University, is a qualified personal trainer, a fan of travel & sport including picking up the whistle, putting on the pink, and refereeing games whenever he gets the chance.


Project Manager - Early Childhood Education
Casey Smith
Ph: + 64 571 3872
Ext: 722
Email: casey@nzrl.co.nz

Casey has been an early childhood educator for more than eight years.  She has a Bachelors Degree in Education, and is currently completing a Masters in Education thesis. She has worked for AUT University where she was responsible for raising the levels in education success for Maori and Pasifika tertiary students currently enrolled in the Diploma of Teaching (ECE Pasifika) as well as the Bachelors in Teaching specialising in Maori and Pasifika education. Casey is a Manager for an Under 9s Rugby League Team at the Mangere East Hawks Club, a position she has held for three years.




GM Commercial
Sarah Lewis
Ph: +64 9 571 3856
Ext: 726
Email: sarah@nzrl.co.nz

Sarah joined New Zealand Rugby League on December 16, 2013. Sarah comes to NZRL from Heathrow Airports Ltd were she has been employed for the last five and a half years in a number of roles in the sponsorship and commercial area. Her last role for Heathrow was Commercial Manager for Heathrow's VIP and Diplomatic Services Business unit.

Complementing her commercial skills, Sarah also brings the management of complex stakeholder relationships to a new level for NZRL.

Sarah also has a rugby league connection where early in her career she worked for the Vodafone Warriors in the promotional and sponsorship area.


Communications Manager
Grant Chapman
Ph: +64 9 571 3870
Ext: 720
Email: grant.chapman@nzrl.co.nz

"I've been pretty lucky through my career to have been associated with some of New Zealand's best athletes, either through my job or my own competitive days in the decathlon, so I'm excited to continue pursuing that passion for sport with NZ Rugby League and the Kiwis.

"The communication and media industry has changed since I was a cadet reporter at the Auckland Star 30 years ago, and our biggest challenge is adapting to a digital age where social media is taking over.

"That will be something we must embrace in rugby league, as we build a positive culture and promote the great work we do, on and off the field."


Marketing and Sponsorship Executive
Philippa Ivory
Ph: +64 9 571 3863
Ext: 713
PH: +64 21 532 483 
Email: philippa@nzrl.co.nz

From 2010 - 2014 Philippa was responsible for the delivery of a comprehensive communications programme for NZRL including the website, weekly 'Bulletin' and monthly 'In Touch' magazine, along with the NZLeague and NZKiwis Facebook pages. She was also editor for a number of NZRL publications including match programmes and the Annual Report.

In mid 2014 she handed over the communcations portfolio to Grant Chapman, Communications Manager and took on a new role in the marketing and commercial area, supporting the Commercial Manager with marketing, sponsorship and events.




Chief Financial Officer
Alex Hayton
Ph: +64 9 571 3851
Ext: 701
Email: alex@nzrl.co.nz

After a three month contract which lasted two years, Alex joined NZRL as a permanent employee in November 2009. Alex is a sports nut with a passion for football, but has a pedigree in league being a Glenora Bear-Cub. Following a successful career in business he moved into sport working with NZ Football. While there he was involved in a review of their football competition and the creation of the NZ Football Championship which saw Auckland City travel to the UAE to compete. He has a son and a daughter who both play the round ball game and he coaches his daughter's team.



Financial Accountant
Ruth Harknett
Ph: +64 9 571 3879
Ext: 729
Email: ruth@nzrl.co.nz