sport

Peacock supports World Club plan

Jamie Peacock has called on Australia to broaden their outlook and support plans to lift the World Club Challenge onto a bigger stage.

Speaking in the aftermath of Leeds' gripping 18-14 defeat by NRL champions Melbourne Storm in front of a capacity 20,400 crowd at Headingley, Peacock urged the Australians to "stop being so insular".

Even in defeat, the Rhinos managed to enhance the concept of the annual global clash of champions, which Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington wants to see expanded to a six-team competition and taken out of England, where it has been played for each of the last 13 years.

"Headingley was electric and you don't always see that," Peacock said. "I thought it was a magnificent occasion.

"If you develop that into a six-team tournament, it would sell out wherever it was played and I think if you take it to Australia their teams will get behind it.

"We're behind the eight-ball in rugby league. Rugby union has taken the lead with the Heineken Cup, football has got its Champions League and even cricket has a Twenty20 club competition.

"This is a great concept and I certainly think it deserves a three-game series over here.

"We've given it some credibility. It will be difficult over there - it's a different challenge for whoever does that - but I think it would be magnificent.

"Hopefully Australia will do it. They need to stop being so insular and I think that's coming across with the vibes we're getting, they realise there's more than just their competition."

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy concedes not all the Australian clubs take the World Club Challenge seriously but his side certainly do.

Their latest victory enabled them to become the first NRL team to win three world titles, matching the feat of Leeds, Wigan and Bradford, and it came against all the odds, with the weather, travel and match practice all weighing in favour of the Super League champions.

Full-back Billy Slater, who was in the Storm team that beat Leeds 18-10 at Elland Road in 2010, says his team enjoy their pre-season visits to England.

"We're not whingeing that we have to come over here," he said. "We really enjoy it.

"It's really hot over in Australia at the moment; it's a good little freshen-up to come here for two weeks and have a bit of a cold snap and play a tough game.

"I enjoy coming over here but, if it was played over there, I wouldn't have an issue with that either."

Melbourne second rower Ryan Hoffman, who has now appeared in four World Club Challenges including one for Wigan in 2011, believes it is time for Australia to stage the match.

Brisbane were the last Australia club to act as hosts when they lost at home to Wigan in 1994.

"It's been a long time," Hoffman said. "I think Australian fans are dying for it to be out there. I'd like to see it as well."