The international test series between England and Tonga has just finished up with Shaun Wane’s side earning wins at each of St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds, but plenty questioned why the game wasn’t taken beyond the heartlands including London Broncos new signing Sadiq Adebiyi.
Born in Nigeria but raised in London, Adebiyi is returning to his ‘home-town club’ after spending the 2022 season with Keighley Cougars, the 26-year-old having previously played 22 games for the Broncos including 13 Super League games.
Of course the Broncos now find themselves back in Super League following an incredible second-half of the 2023 season, lifting themselves out of a relegation battle, into the playoffs and ultimately winning the Championship Grand Final. It means that the team from the capital will be back in Super League for the first time since that 2019 campaign where Adebiyi featured.
He’s now revealed what a motivator their Super League status was in his move, speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League he explained: “The main reason why I moved up here was to play Super League and that’s when I signed for Wakefield, and now it’s one of them where I can do that at home surrounded by family and friends.
“I like to think I played some of my best out of London. I know everyone at the club, it’s like my hometown club.
“When the opportunity sort of came about, not just to play in Super League but to represent London in Super League, it was a no brainer for me really.”
He’ll now be an important member of Mike Eccles’ squad as they venture back into Super League, something that could prove to inspire thousands down south to pick up a rugby league ball, instead of opting for rugby union instead. A London team being in the sport’s top flight is of huge importance for the growth of the game, something that Adebiyi argued for in reference to IMG and their plans to develop the game.
“One of the selling points to coming back to London was obviously the whole IMG stuff. They wanted London to be a big part,” he explained before then questioning why the England and Tonga test series didn’t feature a game in the capital.
“Rugby league in London needs that international presence where if you’re a rugby union fan or football fan, go and watch the game because it’s on in London, then they might start supporting London and start supporting rugby league.”
He recalled doing the same himself: “I remember growing up and and there’ll be that one odd game either at Wembley or somewhere else. They seemed to get a lot of fans because you get people from obviously up North come down, spend the time in London, all the fans in London and you get to obviously watch the best players go at it.
“So yeah, when it was sort of announced that there was no games in London, there was a sense of ‘surely if it’s an England game then there needs to be a game in the capital’.”
Explaining that he’d kept up on the series as both a fan and to support his former teammates such as Tom Johnstone, whom he described as “a freak of an athlete”, the 26-year-old spoke of the financial benefits of playing in London, suggesting: “You’d think a game in London would boost the cash. It doesn’t have to be a massive stadium either.”
For the time being though rugby league in London might not be international level, but it will be Super League level with Adebiyi confirming that the Broncos pre-season will start within the next two weeks.
“I’m just worried about next year and playing the best we can in Super League to be honest. Just take it each week by week and sort of do all our homework on the team and do what we can to get that win that week.”