Classic Wallabies boss and former Test lock Justin Harrison has been revealed as the new Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) CEO.
Harrison takes over from Prataal Raj, who was in the job eight months before departing to join GiVV Technologies Australasia.
The 45-year-old spent the better part of a decade overseas before returning to live in Australia full-time at the start of 2019, along with his wife and two sons, and taking up the role of Classic Wallabies manager.
He was considered one of the frontrunners for the RUPA job just a year ago, before Raj pipped him for the position, and his work since returning to Australia has only shored up his standing in the game domestically.
Harrison played 34 Tests for the Wallabies and played in England and France before transitioning into coaching at French side Narbonne.
Harrison has also worked in the corporate realm, with a role working for AFEX and founding sport and business consultancy group, HuBe.
“The Australian rugby eco-system is entering pivotal times, and I am excited to be given this opportunity to help shape what is on the horizon for our game,” Harrison said.
“All of us, as Australian rugby’s stakeholders, have a responsibility to drive positive transformation, and to possess the desire to see the code return to the forefront of innovation on a global scale.
“The players have a great opportunity and a key role to play in delivering this change through engagement and real time investment through all levels of the game, and I look forward to representing our great Rugby family on behalf of the men, women, boys and girls who are the past, present and future members of RUPA.”
RUPA Chairman Bruce Hodgkinson AM SC said Harrison would bring a valuable perspective to the players' association.
“Justin’s contribution to the game in Australia, and the journey which he has been through over the course of more than two decades, provides him with a fantastic perspective on the future of the game here and the role which RUPA will play within it,” he said.
“Justin’s prior experience within RUPA and knowledge gained as a player, coach and administrator within professional Rugby globally for more than 20 years positioned him as the ideal appointment.
“He cares deeply about the code’s success and wants to contribute to the positive direction of Australian rugby. The Classic Wallabies is one of the most respected programs within Australian Rugby at this point in time, and Justin has been a major part of gaining that respect and delivering outstanding outcomes for the greater good of the game.”
Harrison will take over the role in eight weeks after completing his responsibilities with the Classic Wallabies.