Hot field joins race to be Broncos boss
The battle for the Broncos CEO post is hotting up with Storm boss Dave Donaghy and former Reds chief Richard Barker emerging as serious threats to edging out high-profile contender Ben Ikin.
News Corp can reveal Donaghy and Barker have rocketed into contention for one of the most prestigious roles in Australian sport after impressing Broncos bosses in a series of interviews which concluded this week.
The Broncos will finalise Paul White's successor next week after jettisoning 160 applicants to establish a shortlist of five, which included Donaghy, Barker and former Brisbane and Queensland Origin playmaker Ikin.
A fourth individual interviewed is a high-powered chief executive who runs one of Australia's top 50 companies.
The Broncos will hold a board meeting on Monday night to rubberstamp their appointment and negotiate terms with a view to a public announcement within a fortnight.
Sources close to the hiring process say that of the five candidates interviewed, two were standouts.
Ikin officially declared his interest in the Broncos CEO post in August and was widely regarded as the frontrunner because of his football intellect and history with the club as a member of Brisbane's 2000 premiership team.
But Ikin's appointment is far from a fait accompli following slick presentations from Barker and Donaghy.
Former radio executive Barker served as Queensland Reds CEO for two years, appointing Brad Thorn as coach in 2017, while the 37-year-old Donaghy has been the Storm's chief executive for the past five years.
Donaghy has been mentored by multi-millionaire business tycoons Bart Campbell and Matt Tripp at the Storm and has an intimate understanding of the commercial side of NRL affairs from his Storm tenure.
The Gladstone-born Donaghy is rated one of rugby league's rising CEO talents.
There is a view Ikin lacks the executive pedigree of his rivals in the five-way fight to succeed White, who will depart next month after a decade of service.
Others who applied to run the Broncos' $52 million empire included former Melbourne CEO Ron Gauci and lawyer Angelo Venardos, who worked as a team manager at Brisbane under Wayne Bennett in the 1990s.
It is understood Gauci has been overlooked by the Broncos, while Brisbane-based lawyer Venardos confirmed he was not among the final five.
"I did apply for the Broncos job but ultimately I made the decision to withdraw my application," he said.
"I have a great passion for the Broncos club. I was involved with the club for many years under Wayne Bennett in the 1990s and there were a range of things that attracted me to the Broncos CEO position.
"I chose not to continue the process due to my business interests and the Broncos job would have impacted upon that, so I made the decision to pull out.
"The Broncos are a great club and I wish their next CEO the best of luck."
Originally published as Hot field joins race to be Broncos boss