SHANE MATTISKE will hand the keys to the castle to new NRL chief executive Dave Smith on Friday morning with the game on the verge of what he believes is a golden era.
On his last day as the interim boss of the game on Thursday, Mattiske announced a new deal with Holden - believed to be worth $4 million a season - to sponsor the State of Origin series, Australian Kangaroos and the under-20s competition.
It is not the only coup the NRL has celebrated under Mattiske's watch since David Gallop resigned in June last year.
A record-breaking billion-dollar broadcast rights deal, as well as retaining Telstra as the naming right partners of the premiership, has fast-tracked rugby league's development and provides Smith with a solid platform to continue the evolution.
''We now present the game to a new CEO with the game in a stronger position than it has ever been in with a new five-year plan that is backed by the game's greatest ever media rights deal and some really solid sponsorship partnerships at all levels of the game,'' Mattiske said.
''We're all very proud of where we are and we're very excited about the future under someone who is going to bring a new set of skills to the game.''
Mattiske was thrown into the job of acting chief executive at a time when the game needed to make some big decisions and land some even bigger deals. He will vacate the top dog's chair this morning a satisfied man, but well aware the job is far from over.
''Personally, and for everyone inside our business, there's an immense sense of satisfaction with what's been achieved over the last eight months,'' he said.
''There was certainly an opportunity for us to struggle a little bit with the change that we went through. But I'm really proud, personally, of the way the whole administration of this game has focused on the deals that needed to be done and not only written those deals but we've actually exceeded expectation in a lot of cases.
''There's still plenty to do but there's no doubt rugby league is in the strongest position it has ever been.''
On the top of the NRL's list of immediate priorities is finalising the collective bargaining agreement, as well as the New Zealand television rights deal.
''I've been spending time with our clubs taking them through the deal and getting their support, while David Garnsey has been doing the same thing with the players,'' Mattiske said.
''It's important that isn't rushed and it's important the players know the deal itself. I'm confident that in the coming days we'll receive confirmation from David Garnsey and the RLPA that all the players have not only been provided the opportunity to vote, but had the deal explained to them. Then we'll move forward to documenting it into a long-term agreement.
''The New Zealand market is a strong focus for us and there's been discussions on a weekly basis already in regards to the television rights. We're confident that will be settled prior to the beginning of the season.''