Plans for premiership match in US no longer a dream
''We are trying to put a man on the moon''.
That's how US sports strategist John Paul Basile describes rugby league's latest attempt to gain a foothold in North America.
However, the former NBA executive, who was involved with promoter Jason Moore in the successful bid to host the 2025 World Cup, believes the NRL has the potential to make a similar global impact to the NBA.
Basile's message comes as reports emerge that the NRL is set to play a Telstra Premiership match in the United States as early as next season.
''I spent more than seven years with the NBA and our entire strategy was based on if you grow the game of basketball, the very best basketball is what people around the world are going to want to see and consume so the NBA profited from that,'' Basile told NRL.com.
''I don't compare basketball to rugby league but there is opportunity there if you build it and you invest and you have a long-term view.
''I think it is the same thing for the NRL. They have this wonderful global opportunity. It is just at what point do they finally say this is something worth investing in.''
That point would appear to be now after confirmation this week that New Zealand would play England at Denver's Mile High Stadium on June 23 and revelations the NRL's 2019 season opener could be played in the US.
''We have got to showcase the game and get people to watch it and understand it,'' Basile said. ''There is nothing better than a live match to do that.''
Both matches are scheduled during the NFL off-season and American football fans are an obvious target audience for a game which is being promoted as ''No pads. No blocking. 6 downs''.
The Denver Broncos have already gotten behind the New Zealand-England Test, posting the announcement to 6.94 million followers of their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
''We want to take this sport which is global but doesn't have a footing in the US, and if we can open up some eyes and get them to think about the potential it is exciting,'' Basile said.
''The game has a long history of folks who have tried to get it going because they see the potential. I just think the world is different and the time is right for it now.''
Basile spent time in Australia during last year's World Cup lobbying officials to support regular games in the United States ahead of the 2025 tournament.
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The New Zealand-England Test has been secured for three years and Moore, the promoter behind the historic 2014 MLB series opener at the SCG, has said he also wants to take NRL games to the USA.
''This really is the beginning of a journey,'' Basile said. ''It doesn't start with one person, it is not one event. It is going to take the entire rugby league community to get behind it and to work together.
''We are a community of volunteers, essentially, around the world and we have got this amazing game that we need to unleash on other people
''I have seen thousands of American football games, I played at college and I love the game but when I saw England against Australia in the World Cup final I was in awe.
''You really had to be there to understand the speed of the game, the fitness, the heart and soul that goes into it, the hard-hitting … I had to recoil a couple of times to watch.
''It is so physical, I thought it was phenomenal. As soon as we start getting games we will have a chance to discover whether there really is a future for league in the United States.''