England to play New Zealand in US
A Test in Denver between New Zealand and England next June is set to be the beginning of a long-term plan to build the game in the United States before the 2025 World Cup.
Moore Sports, which is behind the successful bid to host the 2025 World Cup in North America, has been in negotiations for the Kiwis and England to meet in the US on the June 22-24 stand-alone representative weekend, during which State of Origin II will be played at ANZ Stadium.
The proposal was discussed at Tuesday's meeting of NRL club CEOs and ARLC chairman John Grant confirmed a decision would be announced soon.
If it goes ahead, the Test is likely to be played at Mile High Stadium – home to the NFL's Denver Broncos – and is intended to be the first of an ongoing series of matches played in the US to promote interest for the 2025 showpiece tournament.
"What I can say is that there is a very short period before a decision has got to be made and the parties vested in that decision are the New Zealand Rugby League, [England's] Rugby Football League, the RLPA on the behalf of the players contracted to the NRL competition and the NRL clubs," Grant said.
"Those discussions are happening right now to try and make that happen, and you have to look at this not as one game, you have to look at this as a continuum building the international opportunities for our game.
"That means more revenue for the game, which means benefits for everyone and means players, clubs and leagues can be beneficiaries of this and you can have a global platform which is just a totally different environment in terms of attracting broadcast revenue.
"Though one game it might be, it is actually a very significant step in this process and if 2025 is going to work out then we have got to start now so I would be very hopeful we can get it up."
John Paul Basile, a former NBA associate vice-president for business development and operations who is working alongside Jason Moore on strategy for the 2025 World Cup, is hopeful the Test would go ahead next year.
"I am optimistic because of the fact that people are enthusiastic and there is opportunity," he said. "If it doesn't happen next year we are going to make it happen the following year."
With the Test to be played outside of the NFL season, Basile said the aim was to attract American football fans to rugby league.
"At this point it is not 100 per cent confirmed that it is Denver, we are still looking at other markets, but Denver is kind of the halfway point between the two places [New Zealand and England] and if you know Denver it has every sport in that market," he said.
"It is very saturated in terms of sports but they are extreme sports fans and potentially you have got a team there [the Broncos] who will get behind us and help to introduce it to American football fans."