Hetherington continues push for World Club expansion

Leeds chief Gary Hetherington has once again called for an expanded World Club Challenge, after hailing Melbourne’s victory over the Rhinos on Friday.

The Storm became the first Australian team to win the trophy three times, beating the Super League champions 18-14 in front of a sell out crowd at Headingley.

Hetherington flies out to Australia on Sunday, and is hoping to further discussions about expanding the competition during his trip.

He said: “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. 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 globe, which will obviously improve the global reach of our game.”

The last time the World Club Challenge was expanded, back in 1997, it reportedly lost more than $5m, when it starred all 22 clubs from the Australian and European Super League competitions.

No English team got beyond the quarter-finals, and the competition was won by Brisbane Broncos.

It also resulted in the World Club Challenge not being played again until 2000, when the one-off game format returned with Melbourne’s convincing 44-6 win over St Helens.

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