sport

Rhinos chief wants six-club series

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington is urging the Australians to give the green light for an expanded World Club Challenge from 2015.

As Wigan prepare to represent Super League in the 2014 event in Sydney, Hetherington believes the time is right to press ahead with a six-club series to be held every two years, alternating between the two hemispheres.

"There was further dialogue between NRL and Super League executives during the World Cup and I would hope that can be developed now the season is up and running," said Hetherington, who is on a working party set up jointly by the NRL and the RFL to consider the future of the annual clash of the champions.

Under the proposed scheme, the top three NRL teams from each competition would play their Super League counterparts over one weekend in February to determine both the World Club Challenge and a world series.

"While the NRL teams are over here on a two-week trip, they could also play a game against themselves or indeed against someone else," Hetherington said. "In the past they've played warm-up games against the likes of London and Halifax.

"The World Club Challenge has been an absolute terrific competition and it's firmly established in England

"We've played in five out of six and had a huge crowd at every one of them so I think we've established over the last 10 years that it has got the public appetite and it's generated good revenues. It is capable of being developed.

"It could ultimately generate broadcast and commercial revenue and attract a great deal of interest in both hemispheres.

"It was always the hope that we would start in 2015 but it's now very much in the hands of our respective governing bodies."

Hetherington, whose Rhinos team have won the World Club Challenge three times in the last 10 years, admits to feeling a touch of envy after Wigan were granted the opportunity to become the first Super League team to play in the event Down Under.

Wigan beat Brisbane Broncos in Brisbane in 1994, before the advent of Super League, to add to their home victories in 1987 and 1991 but the event has been held in England every season since it was re-introduced into the calendar in 2000.

Wigan will meet New Zealand Warriors in Hamilton on Wednesday morning in a warm-up match for their showdown with Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday week.

"It was always our dream to be able to go and win the World Club Challenge in Australia," Hetherington said.

"It's the ultimate challenge and Wigan have got that privilege and that opportunity and good luck to them. I certainly hope they can win that game - it would be a terrific boost for our game if they could."