Dave Craven: Maybe not Baywatch star but rugby league can learn from Hearn

Movie star  Dwayne Johnson.
Movie star Dwayne Johnson.
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WHO needs Eddie Hearn when The Rock is coming to Super League?

Well, admittedly, that is a slight exaggeration. On both parts.

Rugby league clearly needs someone of Hearn’s ilk to raise its profile, do something to promote what is clearly a great product and bring it out of its current stifling malaise that has seen the sport tread water for far too long.

And nor is The Rock pitching up for a cameo appearance at The Jungle either, like another Dwain (Chambers) did in 2008 – yes, a full decade ago – for arguably one of rugby league’s best attempts at a publicity stunt for some time.

Just writing that highlights the need for the aforementioned Hearn or someone similar.

Nevertheless, the cousin of Hollywood superstar Dwayne Johnson, whose more recent films include Baywatch, has, indeed, signed for Hull KR.

Junior Vaivai is an American international centre who has been recommended to the Robins’ head of rugby Jamie Peacock by both Sam Burgess, who played with him at South Sydney, and Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott, who coached him in his USA role at last year’s World Cup.

Rovers had been looking to strengthen their squad ahead of last night’s Super League opener and, with the experienced Danny Tickle signing up, too, they have now got some added numbers.

When Vaivai does arrive – he is waiting for a visa – it will be interesting to see how he does settle into Super League but there is clearly something there to pique Tim Sheens’s interest.

Talking about interest, maybe, at some point, The Rock can be encouraged to come down and see his cousin in action at KCOM Craven Park, too.

In comparison, that would make Willie Mason’s arrival look like some sort of C-list celebrity.

There has been plenty of speculation about which way the sport will go following Nigel Wood’s exit as RFL chief executive with growing noises about Hearn getting involved in some capacity.

Along with his father Barry, they have become renowned for the ability to transform sports – darts and snooker being the main ones – in terms of their audience reach, marketability and commercial strength, all areas in which rugby league needs urgent attention.

Of course, Eddie Hearn, perhaps best known as a boxing promoter, actually came out and commented publicly on the prospect earlier this week.

That has got plenty of people excited about his imminent arrival to save the sport.

It might not be quite as easy as all of that, though.

As much as it could do with some of the Hearn magic and expertise in promotion and marketing, they tend to deal with sporting events rather than a sport in totality.

And they do have full control of whatever they take on board, too;, it is hard to imagine Eddie Hearn managing to secure any sort of autonomy when there is the RFL executive and 12 Super League chairmen to contend with.

In fairness, the Super League clubs are talking positively about their own progress since removing Wood from the board and taking more control of decisions affecting that competition.

Speaking to various club owners recently, there does seem a unified approach to make things better from within.

They have promised a new plan of attack to emerge in the months ahead and are quietly confident of implementing ideas that will bring positive change.

It will be fascinating to see the results – with or without Hearn.