An RA spokesman confirmed that recruitment firm Hattoneale had compiled a shortlist but that more names could still be added.
RA was keen to impress that the appointment was well down the list of priorities for McLennan and Clarke, who are working through negotiations on competition structure, a 2021 broadcast deal, constitutional reform, ongoing cost cutting and a new player pay deal.
Separate sources told the Herald McLennan had not met any of the candidates and nor had they been presented to the chairs of the four Super Rugby sides. This was the process used in the appointment of Castle. She and rival Phil Kearns were interviewed by the Super Rugby club chairs in 2017, with Castle winning their approval over Kearns.
Adelaide Crows boss and former Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan told the Herald he was committed to the Adelaide club, while respected administrator Nick Weeks – currently at the NRL – is also not believed to have thrown his hat in the ring.
White’s emergence adds an intriguing edge to the recruitment race. Where Jones, who was the Cricket NSW boss until last year, is considered a gifted and proven sports strategist, White’s skill set is decades of commercial wins in the sports business arena.
The Brisbane-based businessman served on the Queensland Rugby Union board between 2010 and 2016 and was quietly brought back in for a period in 2017 to steady the ship after the financially disastrous era of former QRU chief Jim Carmichael.
While he built the International Quarterback business and his reputation on the basis of athlete management, it has since morphed into an all-encompassing commercial operation, brokering major sponsorships and branching out into events and consulting.
The firm was responsible for Magellan Financial’s $20 million Ashes partnership with Cricket Australia, a deal that was ripped up after the Australian cricket team’s ball-tampering scandal.
But the deal would have reunited White with close school friend and client Eales, a Magellan director, and could have introduced him to McLennan, who was also a director and is now deputy chair of the $90 billion investment fund.
White did not respond to the Herald’s calls on Wednesday.
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Georgina Robinson is the chief rugby reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.