Wayne Bennett has divulged his plans for rugby league to boom in the United States of America, as the coach for the Broncos and England turned up the heat on the code’s chiefs to grow the sport inside that country.
Thirty years after being part of the State of Origin exhibition game in Los Angeles, Bennett is eager to sell the sport to the more than 300 million Americans by heading back to the USA next year along with the English team.
Negotiations Afoot for a Test Match in Denver
The English and New Zealand rugby leagues are in negotiations currently to take part in a Test match in June next year in Denver, in what is the first step towards fostering interest for the sport ahead of the 2025 World Cup in the US and Canada.
Bennett Wants to Extend His Tenure
Bennett’s contract with England lapsed two weeks ago after a World Cup that represented a shot in the arm for the English game, with their team narrowly losing 6 – 0 to Australia in the final match at Suncorp Stadium.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail, Bennett revealed that he would be interested in extending his tenure with the English team, but only on the condition that the bosses of the international league support his dream for the code to take off in the United States.
Bennett stated that it was imperative that manners in which to grow the game were found, and that it was vital that it be taken to America.
He stated that the international heads needed to deliver on certain things regarding fixtures and the calendar, but that if this happened, he would certainly look at committing to England.
He spoke of being tired of the many wasted opportunities to grow the game, and said it was impossible to continue with it only being played in the NRL, New Zealand, and the northern parts of England.
He said that if things continued like this, there was no way that a better game would be being played in the next 30 years.
The Rugby League World Cup is Where It’s At
Bennett went on to say that the rugby league World Cup in the USA was seven years away, and that, after the soccer World Cup had been held there, the game had taken off in a big way.
He added that it was not time for rugby league to get over there and make their statement.
After a magnificent World Cup, the international game threatens to become stagnant next year. With the current schedule, the Big Three, made up of New Zealand, Australia, and England, won’t be playing again until October.
Bennett wants to change this, with a mid-season Test between England and New Zealand on the weekend of June 22 to June 24, which will also coincide with the NRL’s representative weekend, and State of Origin II.