sport

Hetherington on a mission

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington has flown to Australia in a bid to expand the World Club Challenge.

Even in defeat to Melbourne on Friday night, Hetherington believes his Leeds Rhinos team enhanced the concept of the annual clash of the champions and is convinced the time is right to incorporate more teams.

Hetherington is part of a working party set up by the Rugby Football League to explore ways of raising the profile of the challenge, including the possibility of introducing new venues after it was held in England for the 13th consecutive year.

He wants the top three clubs from both Super League and the NRL to become involved in a world series and plans to make his argument in face-to-face discussions with representatives of Australian clubs during his trip down under.

"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."

Wigan owner Ian Lenagan is another advocate of expansion while the case has also been taken up by Warrington's majority shareholder Simon Moran, who has personally written to NRL clubs to promote the idea.

Moran contacted South Sydney and previous WCC representatives Canterbury Bulldogs, Manly, Brisbane, Melbourne, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Newcastle urging them to consider a world series in which the first, second and third-placed teams in each league would face off against each other every second year.