The initiative shown by the NRL club South Sydney and international partner Leeds Rhinos – must be followed up by the NRL to capitalize on a lucrative market waiting to be tapped; as the positive signs could lead to massive rewards for the code in the decades ahead. Sports mad Jacksonville, Florida are reportedly totally interested in the new game they were introduced to and are pushing to make the Rugby League game an annual event in the USA.

While it’s understandable the likes of the NRL have been gun-shy to invest heavily into future expansion internationally after years of in-fighting and turmoil locally; the signs clearly show that with a warchest of funds and good celebrity backing the code does have a future on the other side of the world.

Russell Crowe’s profile alone is doing wonders for the game and more specifically his South Sydney club internationally and the NRL should be on the phone to Russell’s people to ride on the coat tails of the recent success. Amazingly around $40,000 in Souths merchandise was snapped up by eager locals in Jacksonville and the celebrity visitors around the game certainly whipped up the interest that was hoped.

The ultimate prize is eventually a team from the United States competing in the NRL, sure we are a long way off that yet – but that achievement could lead to huge international success for Rugby League the world over. It would mean rival codes such as the AFL and even Rugby Union could be blown out of the water in one single strike. The sponsorships, TV dollars and endorsements would go into orbit and the earning potential of clubs and players would surge.

Many will argue that the game still needs time to heal and expand locally; however if the games administrators don’t set some lofty goals for the future – then we may simply idle along at the same speed we have been in recent times. Let’s start thinking big! USA is the jewel in the sporting crown and it seems the sportsmad Americans would appreciate a game of hard hitting, fierce action that is packaged well for TV and easy adoption. 

By ricky

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