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Blake Solly hopes World Club Series will one day be played in Australia, US and Asia

By Adam Leah

Super League general manager Blake Solly believes it is inevitable that the World Club Series will be played in Australia in the near future and also suggests the tournament could one day be contested in the US or Asia.

The three-game series will take place across the north of England this weekend as St Helens host Sydney Roosters, Wigan Warriors entertain Brisbane Broncos before Leeds Rhinos and North Queensland Cowboys duel in the World Club Challenge.

The tournament is only in its second year since the expansion from the World Club Challenge and Solly envisages that Super League teams will be asked to travel down under to contest in the future.

“We love hosting the tournament,” Solly told NothingButLeague.

“Year one was a success and Year two will be even better. We will be happy hosting in Year three [2017] but I think talking to people like Shane Richardson and Andrew Hill at the NRL, that it’s inevitable that it’s hosted in Australia.

“We would need to work out when the three game series is mature enough to go to Australia and then how you best play it in Australia. Do you play it in three different cities or do you play it in one city? Do you play it as a triple-header? There are all of these options to think about but from my point of view I am very much focusing on making sure that 2016 is an improvement on 2015 so that the momentum continues and the tournament’s value continues to grow.

“Playing it in new territories as well would be exciting because it is the sort of concept that has the potential to go to the USA, Middle East or the Far East and be played over one weekend and attract a whole new fan base to the sport of rugby league.”

The inaugural series was deemed a success last year with sell-out crowds at Langtree Park and the Halliwell Jones Stadium as well as TV viewing figures reaching over two million.

Brisbane and St George Illawarra were selected to take part in 2015 but this year the top-three NRL sides last season have made the trip over and is a positive step for the growth of the series according to Solly.

“I think that it’s probably one of the understated success stories of 2015 and the fact that we now have the three best Australian clubs coming over to play the best three British clubs is a huge success story for the game,” he said.

“It took us a long time to go from one game to three games and in 2015 we set out to make sure that the event was a huge success and that we went from having to invite NRL teams to them having to qualify.

“I think the competition’s got real momentum. If the sport is patient with it, it can grow into something that is as exciting and is as commercial as some of the other international club competitions that we see in other sports.”

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