Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington has hit out at the Australian NRL for their lack of commitment towards the World Club Series.
A six-team tournament has this year been reduced to four because no other NRL clubs, apart from Premiers Cronulla and Wayne Bennett’s Brisbane, were willing to compete in the competition.
“The Super League has been consistent over the past 10 to 12 years to build and develop the World Club Challenge and World Club Series,” Hetherington told Fairfax Media.
“Some NRL clubs have been very supportive and visionary but the NRL has not given the required attention to the World Club Challenge and World Club Series for it to maximise its potential.
“The NRL doesn’t appear to think the World Club Series, in particular, is worthwhile or at least they have not made their position clear.
“It takes two to tango. I don’t know what more Super League can do.”
Hetherington worked hard to expand the World Club Challenge into the World Club Series prior to the 2015 season, but one-sided results over the last two seasons have seen NRL clubs lose interest.
Except for Brisbane’s 14-12 extra-time win over Wigan in 2015, the other five matches have seen easy victories for the Australian sides and the Rhinos Chief admits the concept’s future is in doubt.
“I think the World Club Challenge itself has established itself as competitive and viable,” said Hetherington.
“We saw when Wigan went down to Sydney to play the Roosters in 2014 and 35,000 people showed up that there is an appetite for it among fans there. It was a breakthrough for our clubs and the concept.
“It has diluted the World Club Series this year with only four sides taking part, down from six over the previous two seasons.
“I think the World Club Challenge itself is well established but the World Club Series, you’d have to say there’s a question mark over it.”