FOR the first time in 14 years, Group Seven Rugby League will have a new senior president after Scott McLaurin was voted in on Wednesday evening.
Following the senior AGM at the Kiama Leagues Club, McLaurin opposed long-time president Roy Mills for the role.
Four of the five newly appointed board members (with Matt Poort absent), Allan Carroll, Warren Kelly, Mills and McLaurin as well as Group Seven's Greg Cassin, then voted, seeing McLaurin elected into the role.
McLaurin first started his involvement with Group Seven at the age of four, spending time as a player with the Shellharbour Sharks - reaching one first grade grand final, before coaching at Berry-Shoalhaven Heads.
He also spent time in charge of Berkeley's third grade side before helping establish the Stingrays of Shellharbour club in 1998 - which started with three junior teams, after transitioning from Stella Maris Catholic Primary School.
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McLaurin then went to be club's junior and senior president for 18 and four years respectively, all while coaching teams from under sixes to under 18s as well as girls league tag - before eventually joining the Group Seven senior board in 2016.
After three years in the board, he became vice-president this season, acting as a stepping stone to him taking on his new role.
"I wanted to take on the role because I'm passionate about my rugby league and believe, as good as our product is, it can be better," McLaurin, who has five of his six kids involved in rugby league, said.
"Roy [Mills] has done a fantastic job over the past 14 years and I'm really proud to have worked with him over the past couple of seasons - but it's time for a change and I'm up for the challenge.
"This is an amazing opportunity and I'm determined to get the absolute best out of our game as I can - with the help of all the clubs, I'm going to help it reach the potential I know it's capable of."
In the coming years, McLaurin knows there will be some decisions to be made, including the introduction of women's tackle and potentially new teams in first grade, but it's a position he wants to be in.
"We can all see how much the women's league tag has brought to the competition - it's been a fantastic addition and has taken our game to another level, by getting the whole family involved in footy," the 51-year-old said.
"When it ultimately becomes time to try and work in a women's tackle competition, it can only be positive for the group.
"In the same token, it's great that teams such as Wreck Bay have visions of playing first grade - it's up to us to help them achieve that if they can present the strategies, on and off the field, about how they can be sustainable moving forward.
"I love having Indigenous players in our game and I think we can do even more, on top of the All-Stars game and Indigenous rounds, to promote them in the future."
Joining the five aforementioned board members, who will all be given their own portfolios to take care of, will be Tanya Ardler and Cassin, as well as newly appointed junior president Kevin Whitford.
It's this enthusiastic brains-trust that has McLaurin excited for the future.
"The product is already there, it's up to us board members to make the club's jobs easier moving forward," he said.
"By doing that, we can give even more exposure to a competition, which in my opinion, is as close as it's been in recent memory.
"If you don't turn up on the day, you'll more often than not know about it by the end of 80 minutes."
At the AGM on Wednesday, attended by close to 40 people, a number of issues were addressed, including the uncertainty surrounding the future of operations manager Peter Mehl - who is currently off on stress leave, following his racist comment at the junior AGM and therefore absent from the meeting.
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NSWRL region manager (Southern) Kevin Felgate, who ran the AGM alongside Mills, mentioned they were going to implement a social inclusion workshop for all board members, which will be facilitated by the St George Illawarra Dragons Community department.
The meeting also saw John Anderson voted in as a life member of the senior league and the planning start for a Western Australian WLT team touring the South Coast in February (reciprocating Group Seven's successful trip earlier in the year) as well as discussions about a potential WLT under 18s competition and changes to grand final day.