NRL considers New York option for Kangaroos' Test against Tonga

The NRL is looking at heading into uncharted territory after earmarking the United States for a historic one-off Test between Australia and Tonga at the end of the season.

NRL.com understands the NRL has been exploring the possibility of taking the much-anticipated Test to the New York metropolitan area in October as the game looks to expand its global footprint on the back of a successful World Cup last year.

In a move that highlights the NRL's intention to increase awareness and participation in the world's largest sporting market, the governing body has been working closely with a number of promoters to turn the idea into a reality.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg last week hinted at a possible match on foreign soil when he said the governing body was "talking to a number of different promoters" in relation to an end-of-season Test between the Kangaroos and a star-studded Tongan side likely to be held on October 20.

It is believed one of the promoters involved is the group behind the bid for a New York team to play in the English Super League in 2020.

There are factors that need to be considered such as the significant financial output required to cover the costs associated with travel and match payments. There's also the broadcast implications and how the time zone difference would affect Australian viewers.

One venue discussed is Red Bull Arena - the 25,000-seat home ground of Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls.

Tonga lit up the World Cup last year by making it to the semi-finals.
Tonga lit up the World Cup last year by making it to the semi-finals. ©NRL Photos

As it stands, the Kangaroos will play against New Zealand in a one-off Test in Auckland on October 13.

The Australia-Tonga game has been pencilled in for the following weekend. It's unlikely to be pushed back any further as NRL clubs want their representative players back from their mandatory six-week break as early as possible.

The NRL is keen to expand its tiny footprint in the United States in the lead-up to the 2025 World Cup in North America.

The mid-season Test between England and New Zealand in Denver last month has had mixed reviews, with the timing of the match in the middle of the NRL season the most common criticism.

An end-of-season Test would allay most of the club's fears.

The NRL played a one-off Origin game in Los Angeles in 1987 and failed to gain any traction, however this is part of multi-year plan to grow the game in the United States.

It's expected the NRL will open the season with a game between South Sydney and the Melbourne Storm in Los Angeles or San Francisco next year.

There's also an appetite to continue playing the England-New Zealand Test on American soil despite question marks over the timing and location.

"We don't care where the match is played, we just want to play it," Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said.

"It's important, from our point of view, that we build on the momentum of what has been built the past 12 months."

Maguire's high praise for 'incredible' Sutton

Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has paid tribute to John Sutton ahead of his 300th game for the Rabbitohs this Saturday.

Maguire formed a very close bond with Sutton as the first captain-coach duo to lead South Sydney to a premiership in more than four decades.

"He's an incredible human being," Maguire said.

"The reason why I say that is when I first arrived at Souths, I sat down with him. I had heard plenty about him. He was all about working with me and every player within the team to find success. He wanted to win a grand final for Souths. He loves the club as much, if not more, than anyone.

"His ability to be able to connect with all the players is the reason why I chose him as the captain over a period of time. His football knowledge was up there with some of the best players I've been fortunate to coach. He could see sets ahead, plays ahead."

Needless to say how difficult it was for Maguire to implement the club's decision to take the captaincy off him after a pre-season incident in the United States a few months after the euphoria of leading the Rabbitohs to a long-awaited title.

"Yeah, it was the hardest thing I've had to do as a coach," Maguire said.

"You have some tough challenges as a coach and one of the tough ones … I hold John in such high regard but you have to go through things as a club and from an organisational point of view we made a tough decision. He was very honest around where he was at. They are conversations he and I will keep to ourselves."

Stampede for Origin tickets in Perth

More than 25,000 tickets have been sold for next year's Perth State of Origin match since sales opened on Monday.

Almost half of the tickets available for the match at 60,000-seat venue on Sunday, June 23 have already been snapped up.

It's more than the number of tickets sold on the opening three days of sales for the 2015 Origin match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It's expected 20,000 people will travel from the eastern states to watch the second game of the series, which kicks off at 5.50pm (7.50pm AEST).

Hayne begins talks on Eels deal

Jarryd Hayne recently sat down with Parramatta to discuss his future beyond the end of his contract, which expires after this season.

Hayne and the Eels have agreed to wait until after the season to determine their respective moves. It isn't clear whether Hayne wants to remain in the NRL or potentially pursue an opportunity to represent Fiji at next year's rugby union World Cup.

The Eels are also unsure whether they want to keep him. Hayne has been dogged by injuries in 2018 but has enjoyed a solid month of football and is beginning to reap the benefits.

The Eels are happy to wait and see how he finishes the year before deciding whether to give him another season.

Blues take out blue language in team song

The night before Origin III the NSW Blues players gathered in the team room to rehearse the team song they had been writing. Queensland's dominance over a generation meant the Blues players didn't know the team song, not that they would be able to sing the previous version in this day and age.

James Maloney and James Tedesco were part of the crew tasked with coming up with the words, but unfortunately the loss at Suncorp Stadium soured the moment and they didn't sing it after the game.

"It's the old song they used to sing but the one they used was not really politically correct," Maloney said.

"We were just trying to find different words to go with it and take some of the swearing out. It was the same beat and tone as the old one. Freddy changed the second verse because we still had a bit of swearing in it. We had a couple of practice sessions."

Apparently, the Imagine Dragons, who sing Whatever it Takes, contacted the Blues to try and come up with something for them but ran out of time.

Luke garners plenty of attention

It was only a fortnight ago Wests Tigers rookie Luke Garner was mowing lawns for a living. He was recently elevated to the club's top 30 and was rewarded with his NRL debut against the Dragons at Kogarah on Sunday.

Garner played junior footy with the Trbojevic brothers at Manly, with Jake and Tom turning out on the hill at Kogarah to watch Garner make his top grade debut. Former Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses was also on the hill. He was there to watch close friend and house mate Luke Brooks in his 100th NRL game.

Radley leaves JWH in 'wraptures'

Sydney Roosters utility Victor Radley pulled off this hilarious prank on Jared Wearea-Hargreaves last week. Radley wrapped cling wrap around the prop's luxury SUV outside the club's Moore Park headquarters. Let's see how JWH returns serve in this.

Victor Radley up to no good.
Victor Radley up to no good. ©NRL Photos

Chicko chirps up at Panthers

It turns out James Segeyaro was the chief antagonist in the tunnel incident at Panthers Stadium last Friday night. Segeyaro was at his chirpy best and aimed his tirade at Panthers firebrand Jack Hetherington on the way to the sheds at half-time.

Andrew Fifita intervened and pushed Hetherington in the back. No player wanted to talk about it in great detail after the game. Segeyaro claimed: "I wasn't even there."

Black, white and Blues at Cronulla

Still on the Sharks, and it appears coach Shane Flanagan has a prerequisite when it comes to recruitment. Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan, Aaron Woods and now Josh Morris – all who featured in the 2016 State of Origin series for the Blues. The number of current and former Origin players at Cronulla is growing by the day. Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Luke Lewis, Matt Prior, Andrew Fifita, Valentine Holmes round out the list which previously included Jack Bird and James Maloney.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.