Rabbitohs CEO John Lee has emerged as the frontrunner to take over as the new chief executive officer at their bitter NRL rivals, the Sydney Roosters.
Fairfax Media can reveal Lee has caught the eye of Roosters chairman Nick Politis, who is on the look-out for an experienced administrator to lead the club following the departure of Brian Canavan to the Gold Coast Titans.
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It is understood Politis has been impressed with Lee's handling of a number of crises at Redfern, including the prescription drug incident involving Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray and the fallout from Russell Crowe's infamous bonding camp at Nana Glen.
Lee has also been credited as the man who secured the return of Clive Churchill medallist Sam Burgess following his ill-fated rugby stint.
The Roosters are dealing with a number of issues of their own and are looking for a strong leader to help navigate the tri-colours through them.
An outcome is unlikely to occur any time soon given Pearce has been sent to a rehabilitation centre in Thailand and isn't due to return for at least another month.
While the Rabbitohs are disappointed their premiership title defence ended early in last year's semi-final series, Lee has helped position the club strongly off the field.
Souths are the most financially stable club in the competition, one of just three in the black after posting a $1.4 million profit last year. The club also boasts a membership base of about 35,000, about double that of most Sydney rivals.
The Roosters haven't had a CEO since Steve Noyce left the Roosters in 2012, with Canavan taking over in a chief operating capacity.
However, it's understood the club is using Canavan's departure as an opportunity to reassess its business structure.
South Sydney have done likewise, bringing back former CEO Shane Richardson into the newly created position of general manager of football.
The announcement came less than a year after Richardson was appointed as the NRL's head of game strategy and development, where he was tasked with overhauling the pathways system.
However, Richardson's whole-of-game manifesto was met with resistance from the majority of clubs and it's unclear whether his plans for a "Platinum League" will go through as proposed.
It's believed Lee - a former trainer for the late, great Jack Gibson in the 1980s - is keeping his options open following Richardson's return. Attempts to contact Lee were unsuccessful.
Should Lee switch to the Roosters, it will add further theatre to a rivalry that first began between the foundation clubs in 1908.
If the Roosters make a quick decision, it raises the prospect of Lee switching camps before the anticipated opening round grudge match between the sides.
The Roosters CEO position is one of several senior roles yet to be filled in rugby league.
The NRL is also looking to fill a number of executive roles following the departure of Richardson, CEO Dave Smith, COO Suzanne Young and marketing boss Lewis Pullen.