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A new era for the ARL Commission begins on Friday when David Smith begins life in the chief executive's hot-seat at Rugby League Central.

The 44-year-old Welshman takes on one of the highest-profile roles in Australian sport fresh from a 25-year career in banking.

A former British Army soldier, who began his working life in the counter-terrorism unit, is credited with turning around the fortunes of Lloyds Bank International amid the worst global financial crisis since the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

In an attempt to hit the ground running, Smith has been spending two days a week at League Central getting to grips with the challenges he faces in his new role, but he officially ends his association with Lloyds on Thursday.

Although the billion dollar broadcast deal and $150m online rights agreements were announced late last year, David Gallop's successor will still have plenty on his plate ahead of the NRL clubs' AGM on February 20 and his first commission meeting 24 hours later.

With the new campaign kicking off in less than six weeks, the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) for players is still to be rubber stamped.

One NRL chief executive said his club were living "almost hand to mouth at the moment," with the increased monthly grants promised by the ARLC also yet to kick in.

The CEO also revealed there is frustration among clubs about the length of time it's taking for the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) and the ARLC to sign off on the EBA.

This has subsequently delayed the announcement of the new salary cap - believed to be $5.8m - and is preventing clubs from planning ahead.

"We'd all like to know where we stand, it's taken too long," the CEO said.

It was Smith's background in increasing revenue streams that impressed the commission and led to his appointment. His long-term goal will be to get the code onto a similar financial footing to the AFL.

"At the moment we have a similar TV deal to the AFL, but their clubs bring in three times as much revenue as we do," said another unnamed NRL club chief.

"We are light years behind. Hopefully the new man can improve that. I'm looking forward to meeting him and seeing what he has to say."

The self-confessed Welsh rugby fanatic has no experience in sporting administration, let alone the viper's nest that is rugby league.

Former colleagues describe him as engaging, with a forensic eye for detail and a people person. However they say he does possess a hard-edge and a volcanic temper.

He's also renowned for being a workaholic who regularly would fly to the UK for a day to front high-powered meetings and be back at his desk in Sydney immediately on his return.

Melbourne Storm chief executive Ron Gauci believes Smith's appointment will be good for the game and being an outsider should be seen as a huge benefit.

"The game's in great shape at the moment, but it is very good to have someone come in with a fresh pair of eyes," Gauci said.

"His credentials are there for all to see."

Like Smith, Gauci, who joined the Storm in July 2010, had no background in sports administration, coming from the IT industry.

And he backed the new man to quickly get up to speed and realise how the code has to improve off the field by learning some things from the AFL.

"They're the domestic benchmark and leave us behind when it comes to things like promoting pathway development, facilities and infrastructure at grassroot level, particularly in Melbourne," said Gauci.

"Our game does a lot of things very well, but we need to improve massively in others."
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