Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has indicated it will continue to stand up to New Zealand Rugby, after trans-Tasman relations hit a new low in 2020.
The former SANZAAR boss has officially taken over at the union and he's hinted NZR can expect push back on anything that doesn't suit the game across the ditch.
On day one of his new role, Marinos suggests he's likely to follow his predecessor Rob Clarke's attitude in holding his ground against NZR.
"It's obviously critically important to keep building those relationships, but at the same time, ensuring we're doing what's best for Australian rugby as well, and putting ourselves, first and foremost, in the best possible position," he says.
Last year, NZR received firm pushback from its Australian counterpart on certain matters, most notably around an invitation for expressions of interest to join an NZ-led Super Rugby competition and the debacle over Rugby Championship scheduling.
But while he'll put Australian rugby first, Marinos is keen to ensure things aren't as frosty this year.
"It's as important an alliance for Australia as it is for New Zealand, that we work together in this region and are both able to be successful," he says.
That's more diplomatic than chairman Hamish McLennan was just a few months ago, when he claimed the relationship was "probably at the lowest ebb it's ever been".
Australia clearly won't be pushed around, but the dialogue will need to be open during a year that's likely to present similar challenges to COVID-ravaged 2020.
Ensuring Super Rugby's crossover competition can proceed is near the top of the list.
"How are we going to get the trans-Tasman competition up and running?" asks Marinos.
"There's enough logistical challenges trying to do things in your own country, let alone trying to go cross border."
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