Rugby Football League vice president Mike Smith has called on Australia and New Zealand to make a U-turn on their decision to withdraw from the World Cup.
World Cup chief executive told a press conference last week that the chances of the tournament going ahead in England this autumn are 50-50 following the withdrawals from Australia and New Zealand.
Smith wants the Kangaroos and Kiwis to reconsider their decision to pull out of this autumn’s tournament.
In an open letter to Australia and New Zealand, Smith wrote: “I know a lot of good people in Australia through rugby league and my message to them is: ‘the tournament won’t be the same without you, we want you here and there’s still time to reconsider, even at this late stage’.
“Rugby league is our common ground, something we all care passionately about. I know this decision hasn’t been taken lightly Down Under, but this tournament matters so much to rugby league in the northern hemisphere in terms of growing the game, reaching new audiences and building a lasting legacy. We need your support.
“We need you to understand that player welfare is our consideration too and that tournament organisers have gone to enormous lengths to put every conceivable assurance in place.
“To my good friend Blake Solly at South Sydney Rabbitohs, to NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and to others such as Australia RL chair Peter V’landys I say: ‘listen to your players, hear their hopes and dreams, and pick up the phone to Jon Dutton. He’ll be delighted to speak with you.'”