altFORMER professional cricketer Simon Peterson (pictured) has been named as the new chief executive of Rowing New Zealand (RNZ), it has been announced.


The 40-year-old replaces former RNZ chief executive Craig Ross, who resigned in September last year.


Ross was convicted in July this year on nine charges of knowingly using forged documents to gain almost NZ$370,000 (£145,00) worth of charitable grants for RNZ.


In September, High Court Justice Paul Heath overturned the fraud convictions, set aside the NZ$10,000 (£3,928) in fines, but ordered Ross to pay NZ$15,000 (£5,892) towards prosecution costs.


Peterson, who has been chief executive at Sport Auckland for eight years, has also been chairman of Paralympics New Zealand since 2002 and played first class cricket for Auckland.


Rowing has been arguably New Zealand's most successful Olympic sport in recent years.


At the Beijing Olympics earlier this year New Zealand won three medals, including a gold in the women's double sculls, to finish eighth in the medals table, which was headed by Britain.


Of the 60 international medals won by international rowers for New Zealand since 1928, almost a third (32.2 per cent) have been won in the past five years.


Peterson said: “Rowing New Zealand has a clear mission to be both the best rowing nation in the world and the most successful Olympic and international sport in New Zealand. 


“I hope my expertise and knowledge in the wider sporting arena will assist the whole team - which includes many very committed athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers - to achieve their goals.”


RNZ are also due to host the 2010 World Championships at Lake Karapiro.


RNZ chairman Bill Falconer said he was delighted to have secured the services of Peterson after a "long and closely scrutinised search".


He said: "We have always believed the choice to be a critical one for the future of the sport.


"We've had some excellent candidates, but nobody who ticked all of the boxes on our ideal candidate list.


"Simon does that and importantly for the sport, has committed to being based at our brand new high performance centre five days a week.


"If we are to take the sport of rowing to the levels we are hoping for, that has to be an important factor."


Falconer also paid tribute to interim chief executive Luke van Velthooven, who he said had done a "stunning" job in the role on a part-time basis.


He will continue in the role until Peterson takes up his position in March.