Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington visits Australia to talk about expanding World Club Challenge
Last Updated: 24/02/13 11:50am
Melbourne celebrate a try on the way to victory over Leeds
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington is heading to Australia in a bid to expand the World Club Challenge to six clubs.
Despite the Rhinos' 18-14 defeat to Melbourne at Headingley on Friday, Hetherington believes the tightly-fought game was a good advert for rugby league.
He is meeting with representatives from Australian clubs to explore the possibility of turning the annual contest into a mini-tournament featuring the top three sides from Super league and the NRL, as well as holding it outside England.
"There is no doubt that the Probiz World Club Challenge generated a great deal of interest and there's a big appetite for it from sports fans in England," Hetherington said.
"It's the best versus the best for the biggest prize of all and the players certainly produced a game that lived up to that billing.
"I think the time is right to look to expand the concept. Rugby league needs to embrace the demand for global, international sporting events and this offers an ideal opportunity.
"We have seen in recent years the success that the American NFL and NBA have enjoyed by bringing fixtures to London and a concept such as this, further down the road, could prove very attractive to a number of cities around the world, which will obviously improve the global reach of our game."
Hetherington has been backed by Wigan owner Ian Lenagan and Warrington's majority shareholder Simon Moran, who has personally written to several NRL clubs to promote the idea.
Moran wants them to consider a world series in which the first, second and third-placed teams in each league would take on each other every second year.