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Snedden won't be bothered by stadium stoush - Hobbs
DANIEL GILHOOLY
Tuesday, 19 December 2006

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Jock Hobbs believes the wrangle over Eden Park will be well and truly resolved before Martin Snedden steps in as head of the Rugby World Cup 2011 Tournament company next year.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Snedden was today unveiled as the man to head the organising group charged with running a successful tournament in less than five years from now.

Hobbs said Snedden had been approached by an NZRU recruitment agency early in the search for a CEO, along with other strong candidates in New Zealand, Europe and Australia.

He was delighted the fellow-lawyer had eventually agreed.

"We believe he has all the necessary qualities for this role," Hobbs said today.

"He's a proven leader, he has experience in international sports management and administration, he's a very good builder of relationships with stakeholders and has a passion for this role.

"He's done an outstanding job leading cricket and I have no doubt he will do an outstanding job leading this company in the delivery of a successful rugby World Cup in 2011."

The most visible aspect of the New Zealand's first year of preparation for the tournament has been the stoush over which stadium will host the final.

The government is currently reviewing the design and costing of the proposed Eden Park upgrade, with an evaluation not likely for at least a month.

H obbs was confident it wouldn't be something that Snedden would need to address by the time he starts in May.

"I would hope that all of those sorts of larger issues are dealt with and decided well before Martin puts his feet under the table," Hobbs said.

"Construction at Eden Park needs to begin in September. We're still on time but we can't afford time slippage."

Snedden said it had been hard to ignore much of the ongoing debate over the merits of Eden Park compared to a waterfront stadium option. It had created stark divisions at various levels of rugby and society.

"That's part and parcel of the type of environment I've been operating in for the last five years or so," he said.

Hobbs reckoned Snedden would walk into a body which was ahead of schedule in every department, having achieved much behind the scenes this year.

It had taken time to establish Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd because of legal complexities.

"It's great to finish the year with the appointment of the CEO - and someone of the calibre of Martin," Hobbs said.