Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has hit out at the lack of promotion of the World Club Challenge and says the fan interest shows the code in Australia underestimated the appeal of the event.
Robinson said the event should be expanded in future years with the top three Super League teams to play the top three NRL teams on consecutive days over a weekend in pre-season, and the spectacle should be played in Australia and England on alternate years.
“How much time and effort did we put into preparing this as a competition? Our focus was on the Nines,” Robinson said after 31,515 people turned out to watch the Roosters thump Wigan 36-14.
“There wasn’t a huge amount of advertising about it, there wasn’t a huge amount of preparation as far as the event, the week, and 31 thousand people turned up.
“We underestimated the crowd and we underestimated the occasion for the Australian fans, we could easily make this a huge event. And it’s an important one. We need to support our code.”
Robinson said the match could have filled the 44,000-seat Allianz Stadium if it had been marketed better, and the Charity Shield between South Sydney and St George Illawarra hadn’t been played on the same night.
Three games, between the third, second and top teams from the NRL and Super League, could be played on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday – and the demand is there from the northern hemisphere, Robinson said.
“Those clubs over there are saying ‘we want to come down here and do that,’” he said.
“Our pre-season’s a bit muddled at the moment. Some teams play three [games], some teams play one, we’ve got the Nines, which was a great concept, but we’ve got to organise it better.
“We could really make something of this pre-season – to improve the commercial product of the Nines, to improve the competition of the northern hemisphere, and get ready for the NRL season.
“We can’t have three trials plus nines, it needs to be structured but you definitely can do it.”