The Panthers are delighted to announce the appointment of former NRL forward Corey Payne as Panthers Rugby League Chief Executive Officer.
Payne, 31, will step into the role which has been vacant since the departure of Justin Pascoe late last year.
"I’m very excited by the opportunity to join the Panthers," Payne said.
"Over the last five years Phil Gould has put the club back in a financially viable position, ensured the salary cap is in good shape and established solid foundations on which we can build for the future.
"There is a fantastic feeling about the club and I’m looking forward to being part of it."
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Payne played 131 games for the St George-Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs over the course of eight seasons in the NRL.
Having obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney, he retired from the game in 2012 to complete his Masters of Commerce and pursue a career in business.
As a recipient of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship he travelled to a number of countries conducting research into how sport can be used for social change and capacity building within the community.
Payne is the Founder of the Future Direction Network, an organisation that aims to raise the ambition and aspiration of youth from South West Sydney to pursue university education.
In 2013 he was named NSW Young Australian of the Year for his efforts both on and off the rugby league field.
Payne said Panthers members and fans had many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the club.
"With the opening of the Panthers Rugby League Academy, the club now boasts the best training facility in the Southern Hemisphere, providing us with the opportunity to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the game," Payne said.
"Penrith is home to the largest junior rugby league nursery in the country and the club is now in a position to effectively harness that strong talent pipeline for sustained success.
"The Panthers Complete League Coach app has limitless potential and will revolutionise how we go about identifying, benchmarking and nurturing young talent.
"I was at Pepper Stadium for the game last Saturday night and witnessed how that venue has been transformed into an impressive entertainment precinct.
"Finally the Panthers have a young and skilful NRL team that can achieve something special, not just in the near future, but over the long-term."
Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM hailed Payne's appointment as a significant coup for the club.
"With rugby league in his blood and his passion for the game, this position could already be seen as a natural fit for both Corey and the Panthers," Gould said.
"However Corey’s life story and his qualifications for this role extend well beyond the boundaries of the playing field.
"Corey’s academic achievements are nothing short of outstanding. His time spent working with several of the world’s leading businesses and sporting organisations as part of his most prestigious Churchill Fellowship provide Corey with knowledge and experience few sporting administrators in this country can equal.
"Panthers is a club of the future. We are delighted that Corey Payne will now be the man to help guide that future and achieve the high aspirations we have for this club."