NRL's Smith at NSWRL Conference
The headline speaker on day one of the New South Wales Rugby League's annual conference at Navarra Venues' Le Montage at Lilyfield, Smith has also commended coach Laurie Daley and NSWRL CEO David Trodden for initiating a cultural shift that saw the NSW VB Blues reclaim the State Of Origin crown in 2014.
"We've got to grow the game and become more inclusive and you play a big part in that because, when you bring that shield back to NSW, the momentum that creates in terms of the bigger part of the game is phenomenal," said Smith.
"Everyone wants to be engaged, everyone wants to run around and kick the footy and look like Laurie.
"I think if you look at what Laurie did this year in terms of his cultural shift and what 'Trodders' is trying to do this year with the professionalism there as well – all of that cuts to our reputation and I want to feel proud of this game because I know with pride comes all of that care that you show day in, day out.
"No sport ever went wrong if it had strong participation and stringy grassroots and we are very committed to that."
During a powerful presentation Smith treated delegates to an insider’s view of his vision for rugby league at all levels.
Revenue growth, television rights and ratings, social media and plans for improved stadiums and facilities were just some of the topics covered by the NRL CEO.
State of Origin II, where the VB Blues reclaimed the series crown, went into the record books as the most-watched game of rugby league in history.
There were a 'phenomenal' two billion impressions on Twitter for State Of Origin II while rugby league also dominates rival codes on Facebook.
The NRL recently invested $50 million in a fund to safeguard the future of the code.
"I think you'll all agree with me that our game has a really outstanding leader in Dave Smith," NSWRL CEO David Trodden told delegates at the end of the presentation.
"Thanks [Dave] for sharing so much about the state of the game."
Representatives from VB NSW Cup, Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield and junior leagues are among those attending the conference.
Triumphant NSW VB Blues coach Laurie Daley shared some of the secrets to the success of his State of Origin side on an opening day that will finish with the NSWRL Volunteer of the Year Awards.