An expanded World Club Challenge could be heading for Las Vegas, Qatar or Dubai in 2014, according to rumours Down Under.
Following calls to expand the annual competition, which currently pits the NRL champions against their Super League counterparts, a sub-committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of expansion.
Leeds are the current World Club Champions, having defeated Manly in February, and for the past 13 years, the one-off match has been held in the UK.
But an increase in interest and in quality at the top end of Super League, has put it back on the Aussie radar.
The last time the competition was seen Down Under was in 1997, when all 22 clubs from the Australasian and European Super League‘s competed.
There appears to be genuine interest in expansion from a number of clubs in both hemisphere’s, and St George Illawarra‘s Peter Doust and South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson are on the World Club Challenge Working Party, and recently met with Wigan’s Ian Lenagan and Leeds chief Gary Hetherington, as reported by Australian journalist Steve Mascord.
An expanded competition could be played at the end of the season, as opposed to the current timing at the beginning of the year, enabling champion teams to compete as they won their respective competitions, rather than after they may have lost or added players in the close season.
Interestingly, there may prove to be some objections to the expansion from the RFL, and in particular Nigel Wood, who is keen not to jeopardise the international programme.
When the Working Party was announced, he said: “It’s also important to stress that any expansion of the World Club Challenge would be in addition to, and not at the expense of international competition which will continue to have primacy.”
As well as the World Club Challenge changes, there have been calls for a return of the Great Britain tours.