The establishment of a New York team in 2021 to follow the path created by Toronto Wolfpack is set to bolster the game in the United States as the club will focus on developing home-grown talent.
The USA failed to qualify for the 2021 World Cup after losing to Cook Islands last weekend but there are high hopes for the future of the code in North America following the hype created by Toronto’s recruitment of Sonny Bill Williams and the admission of the New York City team by the RFL.
While officials are waiting to learn whether NYC can start in the Championship or must enter the third-tier League One as the Wolfpack did, they are preparing to join the UK competition in 2021 and recently visited the Melbourne Storm.
Members of the USA Hawks have been advised of the club’s plans and the NYC bid team has received approaches from a number of North American-based rugby union players.
NYC director of rugby Tony Feasey said the New York team would not be plundering the NRL and had agreed on an import quota.
“Under our contact agreement we are only allowed five imports but we can have as many Americans, Canadians and Jamaicans as we like, and Englishmen,” Feasey said.
“We are trying to find out where the French stand in terms of Brexit and the rules around that, and also the Kolpack rules with Pacific Island players.
“We want to open up the talent pool and, with no disrespect to Toronto, our aim is to have US-based players.”
Feasey recently spent time in Melbourne visiting the Storm and he said the NRL club was the model for New York.
With limited import spots on their roster, Feasey said NRL stars wanting to join New York City would need to come for the right reasons.
“There is a lot of excitement but we want guys who want come who want to create a legacy in New York,” he said.
“Look at when Melbourne started and the history they have created and the legacy they have created.
“We don’t want guys to come for a holiday or just because they want to live in New York. We want them to come and be a legacy player, win League One, win the Championship, win Super League.”
The New York team will have a 30-man squad and players not required for each week’s games will be sent to play for clubs in the USARL competition.
The arrangement is similar to that employed by the Broncos, Cowboys, Titans and Storm, who have feeder club arrangements with teams in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup competition.
Match Highlights: Kangaroos v USA
“Part of our mandate which we have agreed to with the RFL is we want to help develop the USARL competition," Feasey said.
“We are looking at having a development side from our 30-man squad and the guys who don’t make the playing team or the travelling team will filter back into the local competition and help strengthen that.
“During the week they are on a professional contract so they are training, they are playing, they are eating right and learning and they can take that back to the local clubs and hopefully that will filter through and help bring the standard up.”
Players such as Northern Pride's American forward Joe Eichner, former Wolfpack fullback Ryan Burroughs, who had a stint with Wentworthville, and Australian-born USA dual international Luke Hume have been linked with New York.
Burroughs was on show at the World Cup 9s in Sydney in October and scored the USA's only try in a 41-11 loss to the Australian Kangaroos.
Another USA rugby union international Ahmad Harajly, who represented Lebanon at last month's Nines tournament in Sydney, could be another potential recruitment target.