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RFL cool on bigger Challenge

"Every likelihood the event will look the same next year," chief executive says

Last Updated: 02/03/09 5:11pm

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Outstanding success: World Club Challenge

Outstanding success: World Club Challenge

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RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has said the World Club Challenge will likely remain a one-off match held in the UK in the near future.

He was speaking after Manly Sea Eagles became the first Australian winners of the annual event for six years on Sunday night, the NRL champions beating Super League counterparts Leeds Rhinos 28-20 at Elland Road.

The event has now been held in England for 10 years and there have been calls for a neutral venue - destinations suggested including Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington has proposed the format be expanded to include the top three clubs from both leagues.

However, television deals are in place for the next three years and the Rugby Football League may also be reluctant to tamper with what has become a successful one-off event.

Nevertheless, Wood said the RFL will consider all the options.

"It's appropriate to have a discussion about what may or may not be possible," he said.

"There are issues about the over-playing of players which we need to bear in mind.

"Yesterday was a terrific and outstanding success. International football delivers a profile that domestic football doesn't and we have got to weigh up the balance.

"All things are possible. The middle east or far east are options but as yet no-one has come to the table with a package that would enable us to take the proposal to the next level.

"There is every likelihood the event will look the same next year."

However, Manly coach Des Hasler has questioned the viability of Australia hosting the event.

"We'd love to defend it in Sydney and I'm sure Leeds would like to come to Australia but, as a concept, I'm just not sure how it would go down there during our off season," he said.


Meanwhile, Leeds will be looking to put their disappointment behind them when they resume their Super League campaign at bottom club Warrington on Sunday.

The Rhinos have a 100 percent record so far, but had the same last season before they lost to Castleford one week after winning the World Club Challenge against Melbourne.

Rob Burrow, who hopes to start his first League game of the season after being concussed against Manly, said the players will be keen to make amends for their defeat.

"This is what we were building for so we're bitterly disappointed but we've got to concentrate on Super League now," the scrum-half said.

"After any loss, the team like to rise up the next game and, with it being such a big game, I don't think any problem getting up for it."

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