The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster has revealed that the NRL is eyeing off the possibility of an international rugby league tournament at the end of the season.
International test matches will return on Wednesday night with Lebanon set to play Malta and New Zealand and Tonga headlining three a triple header on Saturday.
Webster said that NRL CEO Andrew Abdo is intently looking at a highly structured tournament in October following the conclusion of the NRL season in order to capitalise on the popularity of international rugby league.
“International rugby league is the future of the game – it really is,” Webster said on 1170 SEN Mornings.
“Andrew Abdo is being very pro active about trying to set up an international month in October after the season and to put some structure around it.
“(International games) is the competitive advantage that rugby league has over the AFL and the AFL can’t believe that NRL powerbrokers haven’t really been able to harness it.
“There’s a real opportunity there for it to happen.
“The game has to embrace it’s Pacifica influence and embrace its international platform that they can play on.
“Andrew Abdo is really conscious of doing that from this season onwards.”
Several big name players will represent their countries such as Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith for New Zealand, Kotoni Staggs and Jason Taumalolo for Tonga and Viliame Kikau for Fiji.
Webster declared that the NRL needs to act quickly and disregard the opinions from club land and the RLPA on establishing an international tournament.
“Stuff the clubs and stuff the RLPA.
“Try doing something that is actually good for the greater good of the game instead of what is good for yourselves.
“How does that sound?
“The players will want to play for the country. I know they do and they show it and we’ve seen what’s happened with Tonga.
“Everyone wants everything to happen in rugby league but then self interest takes over and none of it ever happens.
“It’s time for it to start.”
The Kiwis and Tonga kick off the pacific leg of the International rugby league weekend on June 25 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.