The call has been made to put plans for a game in the USA on ice for another year as the NRL moves towards finalising pre-season trial fixtures.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald that the new “aim” is to take “at least one game” to the USA in 2024.
The governing body was keen on playing a game there in 2023 — with Manly, the Storm and Roosters keen on being a part of the fixture — but is conscious of not “rushing” into it.
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“We are committed to a five-year plan to grow the NRL in the United States market and will aim to play at least one game in the US in 2024,” Abdo told the Herald.
“It is extremely important we don’t rush this process. It’s not about playing a game there as soon as possible. This strategy needs to be about ensuring we have an ongoing presence in the US market.
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“We know we have clubs on board, we have stadiums across the US available and our broadcasters and other stakeholders are very supportive of our ambitions.
“The Commission and I will continue to work hard on this to ensure we have a program for growth focused on the long term.
“That’s why we’ve decided to launch in 2024. Rushing to schedule a single game in early 2023 would not be beneficial without the five-year strategy already in place.”
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While there will be no USA game held in this upcoming pre-season, plans for a two-week tournament with prizemoney is gaining support.
All 17 teams would take part and the addition of Super League champions, St Helens would round it out to 18.
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St Helens will already be in Australia for their World Club Challenge clash with the Panthers — set to be played on the 18th or 19th of February.
The Herald reports the St George Illawarra Dragons have been pencilled in as St Helens other opponent with the ‘Saints vs Saints’ clash to take place the week before the World Club Challenge.
Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly threw his support behind the concept of a two-week tournament, telling the Herald: “Some of the things the NRL did last year around broadcast and the playing of the pre-season was a real step forward…. I think instinctively that anything that adds a bit more rigour to the pre-season will be well-supported.”