The celebrity seal

Wiggins can be a great supporter for the game, says McDermott

Last Updated: 13/09/12 11:24am

Barrie McDermott told Boots 'n' All that rugby league must start using its popularity with sporting celebrities such as Bradley Wiggins to raise the profile of the game.

"We have to persuade the people who have an admiration for our game to come and get involved in it and lend us a bit of weight."

Barrie McDermott

Quotes of the week

Wiggins was the latest Olympic gold medallist, following boxer Nicola Adams and triathlete Alistair Brownlee, to talk to Boots about his passion for the sport.

The four-time Olympic champion and Tour de France winner is a massive Wigan supporter and is often in the stands cheering them on with his son.

Asked if rugby league should capitalise on its popularity with such celebrities and get them involved in promoting the game, McDermott said: "I think it is paramount. There is no better endorsement than celebrity endorsement in the society we are in today.

"Martin Offiah came out with a great quote after one of the Wembley finals. He said people admire rugby league players but they don't aspire to be them.

"What we have to do is persuade the people who have an admiration for our game to come and get involved in it and lend us a bit of weight because we are a great game and everybody involved is passionate about it.

"You can see Bradley Wiggins will talk to his mates and colleagues within his sport and say come and watch this game of rugby league it is one to behold."

Accessible

Fellow Boots 'n' All pundit Terry O'Connor agreed and suggested the admiration people hold for rugby league is down to the humility and honesty of the players and the integrity and spirit of the sport.

"Everybody talks about rugby league and I think everybody admires rugby league," he said. "You heard Bradley talk about how they are so accessible, whether they are in the supermarkets or walking down the street and they are genuine lads who live the dream.

"They get paid to go out and play in front of a crowd. It is all because of a rugby ball.

"There are people out there who admire rugby league players because they know they don't get paid fortunes, they know they go out there and put their bodies on the line week after week, shot after shot. They just dust themselves down, get up and play the ball.

"The big thing that rugby league has is a culture and values, and it also has respect. And we want to instil those values in our youngsters; that you are not going to get on in life unless you work hard and respect everybody.

"You never see a rugby league player running up to a referee and getting in his face trying to change a decision. You might get somebody who questions a referee but a lot of people admire it because of the honesty. The players wear their heart on their sleeves week after week."

Hit the video at the top of the screen to hear Wiggins talk about his love of Wigan.