THE 2020 season presents a fresh start for Group Seven Rugby League, with both a new president and operations manager recently being instated.
Since taking over from Roy Mills, one of Scott McLaurin's main duty as president has been trying to find a sharp individual to run the South Coast competition.
After weeks of interviews, it appears McLaurin has found the perfect person to take Group Seven to new heights - both this season and in the future.
That person is Debbie Rowley, who becomes the first ever woman to be the operations manager of Group Seven - and one of the first ever in NSWRL.
"It's a massive honour to be the first ever woman in this position," Rowley, 46, said.
"I believe it speaks volumes about where the sport and particularly Group Seven, are as a whole.
"I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with people around that and in regards to their respect to women in sport.
"In the younger generation, there are a lot more females working in sport, but in my generation, not so much - largely because we haven't done our whole career in it.
"The fact that Scott [McLaurin] and the selection committee have chosen who they think is the best person for the job, not based on not having a whole career in sports, is amazing and I can't wait to get started."
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Rowley started her love affair for rugby league in Auckland, where she did all her schooling, before linking up with former Canberra Raider Dean Lonergan.
Those pair first worked with Fight for Life - an annual boxing match which pitted New Zealand rugby league and union players up against one another, to raise money for charity.
Then in 2009, Debbie and her partner John moved to Australia, which saw her start working with Groupon, before transitioning to Event Hospitality and Entertainment Limited - which looked after events in 70 different locations around the country.
Soon after, she linked back up with Lonergan and helped establish the Auckland Nines and put on the Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao fight - which Rowley calls the "highlight of her career."
More boxing events followed for Rowley, before she worked as the Men of League Foundation - which ultimately led her to the South Coast.
"I've always been passionate about rugby league, especially at the grassroots level, and I really think there is so much potential here - which is why I put my hand up for the job," Rowley, who has a strong background in commercial and business developments, said.
"Coming in, there's plenty of positive structures in place but I've already established where there are gaps and how we can make suitable changes.
"My other strengths lie in building relationships and getting stakeholder engagement - it's all about being proactive and thinking outside the box, especially with the digital technologies available to us today.
"Honestly, I can't see why in five years, Group Seven isn't the premier country rugby league competition in the state - I see that much potential here."
Honestly, I can't see why in five years, Group Seven isn't the premier country rugby league competition in the state - I see that much potential here.Group Seven operations manager Debbie Rowley.
While Rowley admits a lot of strategic planning will be needed to achieve that goal, she is prepared to put in the work.
"I'm very driven and when I put my mind to something, it gets done," she said.
"Scott [McLaurin] has been extremely supportive of all my ideas and I believe it is an exciting time for rugby league on the South Coast."
During her first on the job, the New Zealand Warriors fan has made it a point of emphasis to touch base with each club and discuss their concerns going into the 2020 campaign.
"It's been great introducing myself to each club's president and chatting rugby league to them - I'm already marking in the calendar when I'm going to visit each home ground," she said.
"Grassroots footy is often the backbone of a community - we saw how much it meant to Kiama last year, with them ending their first grade premiership drought."
McLaurin, who was voted in as president in November, knows Debbie is the right person to take his beloved sport and competition to the next level.
"Both the senior and junior Group Seven boards are excited about what Debbie Rowley will bring to our organisation," McLaurin said.
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"Debbie has years of experience in events management for highly reputable companies and will bring the spark of enthusiasm, creativity and expertise to our game to ensure our competition reaches its potential.
"There is no question we have one of the best rugby league competitions in regional NSW.
"With Debbie's background and skillset, our game will gain exposure to a new level which in turn will generate more sponsorship.
"Collectively the Group Seven boards, the clubs, NRL development officers and NSWRL are focused on growing rugby league across the region and are confident with what Debbie brings to the table we are headed in a positive direction.
"No doubt there are some tough challenges for our game ahead however we are all very enthusiastic about our goals over the next few years."