With so many candidates linked to the role, there will now be no further speculation on who the CEO will be, with the Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd's International Mr. Dave Smith, named the new CEO of the Australian Rugby League Commission
John Grant, the Chairman at the ARLC, said that the appointment was made after a careful process of deliberation and thought that led to the appointment of Smith, who Grant believes is the right man for the role.
â€œThis is a person who knows business, who knows how to lead, who loves sport, who is culturally suited to our game and who has a very strong sense of community.
â€œWeâ€™ve spent a lot of time talking with Dave and I can tell you that we are certain he will do a fantastic job for our game.â€
Smith has a big task ahead of him and has some goals of his own for the role, with some key areas to be assessed for the future of the NRL, including expansion, finalising the salary cap and overseeing the shoulder charge decision, among other things.
“I've probably get the best job in Australia, and I'm very excited about it,” said Smith.
“Sport and business go together these days and I think I have a set of skills built up over a number of years across national and international businesses, and hopefully I can add a lot of value to the growth and ambition set out by the Commission.”
Smith is originally from Wales and moved to Australia 9 years ago as part of his role with Lloyd's International, has served in the British army, has held numerous senior positions at global banking organisations, and is a keen sportsman.
“I'm not a traditional financier or banker, I'm a Welshman, and I come from a working-class Welsh family,” said Smith.
“I spent a number of years in the army and that was a good formation in terms of some of my core values, and I've spent 25 years managing big businesses both nationally and internationally.”
In a sign that Smith is eager to commence in the role, he believes that the role of NRL CEO position, one that he will begin in February, is among the top jobs in the world.
“I just think there's so much opportunity with this code. It matters to people, it's a great sport, it's got great athletes and from what I've seen, the administration is pretty strong as well.”
Being a keen sportsman himself, Smith is excited by the game of rugby league, what it represents, and what the game means to fans.
“I'm absolutely a rugby league fan,” said Smith.
“Probably like most people, I watch it on the weekends, my travel schedule has been pretty horrible for the last 6 months, but what I can say is that I really enjoye the grand final and that the State of Origin series was some of the best sporting competition of I've ever seen.”
“I happened to be up in Queensland, so I got the double whammy of the real passion up in Queensland, which was just fantastic.”
With big shoes to fill following the departure of former CEO David Gallop and a weight of expectation on his shoulders, for Smith, long-term goals for the game are crucial.
“I'm a Chief Executive and part of what I bring to the table is bringing people together and bringing business opportunities together,” said Smith.
“And I think the combination of that, is the vision and the skill that I can hopefully bring to bare, and I'm looking forward to in February working with the Commission and all the stakeholder groups to apply those skills.”
One point of significant conjecture up until it was finalised, was that of the TV deal, but with a billion dollar deal now done and dusted – for the game of NRL, it is about continually moving forward.
“I think that's a crucial component and I think any funding deal is crucial, but I think more importantly, a partnership like that, I think that's a world-beating TV deal and I look forward to being able to work with our partners,” said Smith.
With most CEO roles based around business and management more than anything else, Smith's extensive experience in the world of banking and finance in many ways, may aid in the strategic development of the NRL moving forward.
“I'm not a traditional banker in many ways, but I think what's really important is that we combine the business of sport with business, and I think I can do that,” said Smith.
“I've got a set of skills, that I think can help us do that, but I'm pretty good with numbers.”
With so many points of conjecture for the new CEO to approach in such a short space of time, the key is coming to terms that will satisfy not only the desire of fans, but terms that will make the game better in the long-term.
“The truth is I haven't dealt with them, because I haven't been involved today, and I look forward to getting on top of the detail when the time comes, when I'm CEO in February,” said Smith.
“What I would say though, as my observation, is that there are fairly strong processes that have been run and the right people seem to have been involved.”
“From what I can see, the NRL has done a reasonable job and I think those processes are really important to any decisions that I'll make in the future.”
Ultimately, Smith put down his exact role as one that involves people, working with people, and making the best decisions possible for the game with those people.
“My role is about people and bringing people together and bringing a mix of business ideas, the emotion of sport and that combination, and applying it to a strategic vision,” said Smith.
“And I think all of those things, I bring from my corporate background. My empathy and passion for sport is incredibly strong, and I've played competitive sport my whole life.”
“It's something that's in my blood and my family's blood, so I hope that combination makes me different.”