New Zealand rugby administrator Tony Lewis will return to WA after being appointed chief executive of the Western Force, replacing outgoing CEO Mark Evans.
Mr Lewis, a former WA rugby union representative, begins his new role on February 1.
He played for Perth club Western Suburbs (now Wests Scarborough) in the late 1980s and represented the state in 1987.
In 2013, Mr Lewis joined Tasman Rugby Union where he served as CEO for seven years, during which the Mako emerged as New Zealand’s champion provincial team and won back-to-back premierships in 2019 and 2020.
Before that, Mr Lewis was general manager at Sydney’s Randwick Rugby Club for three years and a manager at NSW Cricket for nearly six years.
He also coached professionally in the UK and taught physical education in London, Perth and NZ.
“Tony’s appointment… underlines my drive for WA to have the best academy system across all Australian sport, through which we can develop, recruit and retain the best young players, just as the Mako have done so successfully in New Zealand,” Mr Forrest said.
“This program will not only strengthen local club and school rugby, but also help support the success of the Wallabies as the Force looks to produce more international players.”
Mr Lewis said he was excited to lead the Force.
“To head up an organisation with such an exciting future is a role any leader would grab with both hands, especially given the vision of Andrew and Nicola Forrest for the Force to be a trans-Tasman Super Rugby powerhouse,” Mr Lewis said.
“Having lived and played rugby in WA, I know first-hand there is a thriving rugby culture in the state.
“I can’t wait to work with everyone connected to the Western Force – from the girls and boys across club and school competitions, RugbyWA, sponsors and suppliers and our fantastic Sea of Blue supporters.”
Mr Evans, who relocated to the UK to be with his family, said COVID-19 travel restrictions made it difficult to effectively carry out the CEO role long-term.
“The club, staff and players all wish to thank Mark for his leadership through difficult times, including his dedication to the club whilst working remotely from the UK to be with his family,” Mr Forrest said.