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“I think…” – Leeds Rhinos CEO’s honest opinion on IMG

Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington

Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington has recently spoken about the introduction of IMG and the state of Super League.

The Rhinos CEO has been with the club for almost three decades, and oversaw an unprecedented period of success earlier on in this century.

Speaking on The Bench with Jenna and Jon, a Sky Sports podcast hosted by Jenna Brooks and Jon Wilkin, Hetherington was asked how he saw the state of Super League in 2024.

He started negatively, saying: “Oh, it’s challenged. Indeed, it’s always been challenged ever since I’ve been involved in the game as a young fan.

“Growing up in the 1960s, the game was challenged and been challenged at different points. And it’s still challenged.

“And probably always will be, is the truth.

“But I think the game is unique as Rugby League is a game that was born out of its community, it’s still connected to its community, it’s got some terrific virtues and it does manage to overcome its challenges and keep batting on.

“And it’s got terrific potential as well that we need to unlock.”

Leeds Rhinos chairmen Paul Caddick, Gary Hetherington with Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow

Leeds Rhinos’ CEO offers up IMG opinion

Asked how to improve the game, he actually showed more positivity than many may expect, including a view on IMG.

He said: “I think we’re on the verge of some significant progress.

“I think the changes, particularly in the last few years, the constitution of the game is now much better. I think we’ve got a really competitive Super League, a really competitive Championship.

“All clubs are challenged financially, but I think the governance of the game is in pretty good shape.

“I think with IMG as a major partner now for the next 12 years, or at least 12 years, we’ve got some significant opportunities.”

IMG was brought in by the RFL to expand the commercial side of Rugby League and has been controversial amongst rugby league fans, with some suggesting that its methods are unfair, while others say it’s bringing necessary changes to the sport.

The Leeds Rhinos CEO then made reference to the success of the NRL: “I think the progress that’s been made in the Southern Hemisphere as well –  they’re now looking beyond Australia and New Zealand, they’re looking at the United States of America, a country that we’ve always believed has got huge potential for the Rugby League and they’re serious about it as well.

“I think we need to be part of that strategy, that plan and we need to play our part even though the NRL is a significantly bigger competition than us.”

The NRL had a historic first double-header in Las Vegas this year, attracting good crowds and expanding the sport’s horizons.

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