David Smith is a good choice for NRL chief

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NRL CEO Dave Smith - dragging rugby league into the future, kicking and screaming. (AAP Image/Damian Shaw)

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New ARLC boss David Smith resigned from his job with Lloyds Banking Group, one of the UK’s biggest lenders, after his Australian unit posted a net loss of over $1 billion in 2011.

As Chief Executive of Lloyds International, Mr Smith made a statement (before anyone knew that he would be the next head of Australian rugby league) that Lloyds’ Australian business “is on a very strong footing” and that he felt it was “the right time to seek new opportunities”.

We now know what those “new opportunities” are.

The fact that Lloyds have asked Smith to hang around until the first of February to help with the leadership transition indicates that he is highly thought of by the bank’s board.

When a key executive decides to leave he is normally ushered out before the tea lady arrives.

We can assume that David Smith has accepted a drop in salary.

We cannot compare Smith’s Lloyds package with JP Morgan Chase & Co’s Jamie Dimon, who takes home $23.1 million in salary, bonus, stock and options. Nor can we compare him to Wells Fargo chief John Stumpf ($19.8 million), Richard Fairbank, CEO of Capital One Financial Corp ($18.7 million) or Citi’s CEO Vikram Pandit ($14.8 million).

But you don’t get to preside over $50 billion worth of assets without being very well remunerated.

I applaud the commission for not reacting to the mainstream media, and for not making a knee-jerk, early decision.

They have taken their time and been very selective, and let’s hope they have backed a winner. I think they have.

Who cares if the new main man does not know who Cam Smith is? Who cares if he did not attend a game this year?

David Smith has inherited a group of outstanding human resources within the NRL, and his key role will be to bring them together as a united team and help them grow.

He also needs to be able to implement the ARLC’s Strategic Plan, while also being proactive enough to build his own plan and have it endorsed by the commission.

The 16 NRL clubs, especially the Storm, the Sharks, the Panthers, Souths, the Knights and the Titans, should benefit from Smith’s background in corporate loans.

Saving these clubs and helping them turn a profit is a hell of a lot more important to the game than sitting on the hill having a hot dog with Freddie Blogs.

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