Rugby League needs to focus on the American market, says legend Sterling

Australian Rugby League legend Peter Sterling believes the sport needs to put a huge focus on the North American market.

The Betfred Super League became a transatlantic competition in 2020 after Toronto Wolfpack gained promotion, with the Canadian outfit expected to attract crowds of 10,000 this season.

And the former Hull FC halfback believes more effort needs to be put into ensuring the game grows and doesn’t stagnate, like in France.

“If something doesn’t expand and grow, it doesn’t survive,” Sterling told Serious About RL.

“I think it’s really important that we look at these places, and try and get people involved.

“If you can get even just a small percentage of the American market, it is such a huge place, that equates to a lot of dollars and a lot of people.

“I’ve always thought that rugby league would appeal to the American mentality, because they love their Grid Iron and we are the game that doesn’t wear helmets and doesn’t wear a lot of padding.

“So straight away, I think you get a lot of credibility with the American fan, as to the toughness and the physicality of our game.

“If we can sell that, and we sell it across a lot of areas, like I say, we can’t just be an insular sport and be happy with what we’ve got because we need new sources of revenue.

“We need new fans to come in, and if we’re brave enough to attempt this and we can get the right people involved and we can financially make it work, then I’m all for it.”

Peter Sterling has called for Rugby League to target the North American market.

Super League’s efforts to grow the sport around the world have been applauded by many down under.

The NRL have come under fire for their lack of expansion and Sterling is one of those who believes there is untapped potential in Australia.

He said: “Now if you take the AFL, the Sydney Swans were taken from Melbourne and put in Sydney, and they could’ve gone bankrupt, bust, out the back door three times in 20 years.

“But the hierarchy had enough belief in them and in their product, that they stuck with them and now they’re a viable part of our sporting landscape.

“We didn’t show the same faith when we went to Perth and when we went to Adelaide, and unfortunately what that does, it makes it more difficult to go back there and do it again.

“So, whilst we look to expansion, we need to make sure that it works next time because we got burnt once, we can’t afford to get burnt again.

“We need to look at expansion, not just what a new club or a new franchise can do next year and what shape they’ll be in the year after that.

“We need to know that the business model is there for ten years time, 15 years to 20 years time, we need to be able to look ahead and make decisions based on that, not just because we need another team to cater for expansion.

“Expansion’s great, but it’s got to be done at the right time, because if it’s not done at the right time, it becomes counter-productive and it’s harder to get back into those places.”

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