Super League look to Dubai or Asia to stage future World Club Series

St Helens' Jon Wilkin pictured at this year's World Club Series launch.
St Helens' Jon Wilkin pictured at this year's World Club Series launch.
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SUPER LEAGUE general manager Blake Solly envisages the World Club Series will soon be played in Dubai or a similarly exotic location.

For decades, the World Club Challenge was a solitary game between the champions of Super League and the Australian National Rugby League, usually played in England but sometimes in Australia.

However, the competition expanded earlier this year to incorporate three sides from each of the respective leagues playing each other over a weekend.

That inaugural event, hosted here, was deemed a success, commercially at least with some excellent attendances, although not for Super League teams who lost all three of their games against NRL opponents.

The concept is something Solly has long advocated and he is relishing the chance for a refined tournament in 2016 to reap even bigger rewards.

Brisbane Broncos, having finished eighth the season before, were involved in the 2015 event as NRL clubs made tentative steps, but this time around there is no doubting the pedigree of those who will arrive in the UK for the series over February 19-21.

Minor premiers Sydney Roosters play St Helens before beaten Grand Finalists Broncos and Wigan Warriors face each other and then the Sunday finale sees respective champions Leeds Rhinos and North Queensland Cowboys battle it out at Headingley.

Solly admitted: “The World Club Series is the best there is in club rugby league and it’s something we can really advance.

“It’s still early days, but I think if you look at the success of year one we can do it even better.

“In future, we could take the World Club Series to Dubai or Asia. Clearly, that is a long way to go to stage it and it would need a lot of hard work, but I do feel it’d be the perfect way to take rugby league somewhere like that, pitching the best clubs from the best leagues together on one weekend.”

On the forthcoming event, Solly added: “It’s going to be great and it’s fantastic we’ve got the full interest of the NRL.

“It’s taken a long time to show, but we’re there now. As a concept, the World Club Series has had a year to bed in and it feels like, having done that, we now have a great opportunity to build on it in 2016.

“We can make it even better, keep growing it so that in the future it’s something we can take to a developing market or a new region.”

Solly on Super League’s future plans: Page 19.