"I think the game is absolutely wonderful" ... Paul Broughton. Photo: Getty Images
RUGBY LEAGUE'S longest-serving administrator, Paul Broughton, believes the game is in better shape than it has ever been.
Broughton, who has been involved at the elite level as either a player, coach or official since 1950, told a gathering in Sydney to launch his autobiography, One More Walk Around the Block, that he had never seen the game as strong as now.
''Never, and I can actually say that without any dissension,'' said 81-year-old Broughton, who played for Balmain and St George, coached the Tigers, Dragons and Newtown and was a co-founder of the Gold Coast Titans.
''I think the game is absolutely wonderful. State of Origin has had a lot to do with it but also the evolution of the Pacific players and New Zealand, in particular.''
Off the field, Broughton said the $1.025-billion television deal and the appointment of Lloyds International chief executive Dave Smith as the league's new boss were signs of the game's health.
''The business plans and the business structures that are in place are absolutely wonderful and I think Dave Smith is going to be ideal to build the business,'' he said. ''But I believe the structure of the business will change, not just at headquarters but also in clubs, so that there is a business CEO and a chief of operations because the game will never be just a business.''
Broughton, who was the first coach to adapt ideas from American football and recruited Manfred Moore from the NFL' to Newtown in 1977, is still involved with the game in Papua New Guinea and believes a Port Moresby team will join the NRL. He also said the central coast, central Queensland and New Zealand should have teams ahead of Perth. ''I have always been an advocate of the eastern seaboard because from PNG down to Melbourne and across to New Zealand, you have got 27 million people and the rest of Australia has got about 4 million.''