North Queensland Toyota Cowboys CEO Greg Tonner has praised outgoing National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith following the news today he would be stepping down from the role at the end of next month.
Tonner said Smith had shown a keen interest in the Cowboys, visiting Townsville for NQ home games on several occasions in 2015, including the elimination semi-final against the Sharks last month.
“I’d like to thank Dave for all his support for the Cowboys during his tenure, including making the effort to come up to 1300SMILES Stadium and engage with our fantastic members and supporters,” Mr Tonner said.
“He’s been very supportive of what we’re doing in terms of our business model and he was always empathetic towards the unique dynamics of our club in terms of being in a regional area with the largest geographical footprint in the NRL.”
With Mr Smith stepping down from the role at the end of his current contract on November 30, Mr Tonner said the Cowboys would continue to work closely with Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant and NRL senior management on several fronts, including the push to deliver a new stadium to North Queensland.
“For us, having just won our maiden premiership and with a busy off-season ahead of us, it is business as usual in terms of working with John and his team in our joint strategy to make the stadium a reality,” Mr Tonner said.
He also revealed that 1300SMILES Stadium was in the mix to host a Saturday night ANZAC Test in 2016, with Townsville, Perth and Newcastle vying for hosting honours. Tonner added that he was working with the ARLC to secure the hosting rights to the match, which, if held in Townsville, would form part of a larger defence memorial event.