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Smith relishing task of leading ARLC
By Ian McCullough and Wayne Heming
18:01 AEST Fri Nov 23 2012

His name may say otherwise but the new ARL Commission's chief executive insists he's no ordinary Dave.

More than five months after David Gallop was shown the door, banking heavyweight Dave Smith was unveiled as the man to lead Rugby League on Friday - then admitted he didn't watch a live game this year.

Born in a British Army hospital in Germany 44 years ago, Smith grew up in rugby union-mad Pontypridd in South Wales, a mining town that gave the world Tom Jones and where Land Of Our Fathers, the principality's stirring national anthem, was penned.

It's not a background traditionally associated with the self-proclaimed greatest game of all, but Smith said living in Sydney for the past nine years had left him in no doubt he'd taken on "the best job in Australia."

"I love rugby league, I'm a fan of rugby union, I'm a fan of all sports," Smith told a packed media conference at Rugby League Central.

"I watch all sports. I really enjoyed the grand final, I thought the State Of Origin series was probably some of the most competitive matches I've ever watched."

He'll start on February 1 after serving out his notice as chief executive of Lloyds Bank International - a role covering businesses across ten countries.

Smith's working life began in the counter-terrorism arm of the British Army before joining the corporate world at London-based investment Bank Morgan and Grenfel in 1987.

Senior management positions with Deutsche Bank and UBS followed before being recruited to lead the Bank Of Scotland's Treasury in Australia.

Despite this white collar experience, Smith was at pains to point out he was very much Dave not David, and insisted he doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a banker.

He also dismissed reports he'd little interest in league before his appointment.

"For it to be reported that I am not a fan is misleading," he said.

"I've spent six months on a plane this year so I have not had time to watch a game live.

"But I would always watch rugby league on the telly or, if I get the chance, go to a game."

While he may not be steeped in the traditions of the game like previous administrators, Smith's stellar resume is one of a serious player in the business world.

ARLC chairman John Grant said Smith's arrival would only be good for the game.

"He understands the importance of corporate brand marketing and social media in building a new business brand and that's what we see the NRL becoming," Grant said.

"He knows business, he knows how to lead and he loves sport and is culturally suited to our game. We're certain he'll do a fantastic job."

Despite admitting to being a proud Welshman, Smith said Australia was now very much home and his support of an unnamed NRL team he and his family had adopted was over.

"My daughters have only ever lived here and they cheer for the Kangaroos and the Wallabies, unless I can bribe them to cheer for Wales," he said.

"My allegiance to any particular team evaporated yesterday but it would be wrong to say who it was."

Brisbane chief executive Paul White, who also came from a corporate background, applauded the appointment.

"His background's very impressive and he's obviously worked very hard to get where he is," White said.

"He's leaving an industry where he's been highly successful and he's taking a risk which to me means he is highly motivated by the challenge which is what I am impressed by."


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