Nigel Wood intends to introduce long-term plan for international rugby league
Last Updated: 17/10/14 2:38pm
Nigel Wood is hoping the formation of a 10-year plan will help prevent more players following Sam Burgess and Jarryd Hayne into other sports.
Wood, the Rugby Football League chief executive who was voted in as chairman of the International Federation this year, admits the game needs to act to make its international aspect more attractive in the wake of the most recent high-profile defections.
England forward Burgess is in the process of switching codes to join Bath, while Australian back Hayne pulled out of the forthcoming Four Nations Series to try his hand at American football.
"I think the international game is under-developed by reference to what it is capable of," said Wood.
I think there has to be a long-term strategy to grow more nations. In the long run, you need six to eight decent nations to put on really great world events.
"We all know what the challenges are in terms of the number of nations that are legitimate contenders for the big prizes.
"I think there has to be a long-term strategy to grow more nations. In the long run, you need six to eight decent nations to put on really great world events.
"The International Federation needs to work with both the RFL and the NRL to help grow those nations over the fastest possible period of time."
Wood acknowledges that although the 2013 World Cup was an undoubted success, the winner was always going to come from the big three of Australia, New Zealand and England.
Wood flies out to Brisbane on Monday ahead of the start of the 2014 Four Nations Series and on Friday will chair his first meeting of the International Federation since his election in May.
Before then he plans to meet with organisers of the 2017 World Cup to discuss, among other things, the possibility of Papua New Guinea hosting at least one of the tournament's matches, and will sit down with fellow board members to draw up a 10-year calendar running up to 2028.
The Four Nations Series is now well established and there is a four-year cycle in place for the World Cup, but Wood says there will be opportunities to look at reviving the Lions tour and introducing an international nines competition.
A proposed Lions tour next year failed to gain the support of the Australians but Wood is delighted to plug the gap with an incoming tour by the Kiwis, especially after the success of the 2013 World Cup, and he says the RFL is currently looking at "iconic" venues for the three-match series.
"We would have loved a Lions tour but at the same time it would have meant that our national team would not have played on these shores for 36 months," said Wood.
"There remains interest in a tour for the Lions in the next cycle. It just needs to be planned in as part of a wider discussion."
Wood says progress is being made towards establishing a full-time executive for the International Federation out of the near-£4million World Cup profit.
"There is still a firm commitment to resource a small executive team that is independent of the NRL and the RFL," he said.
"It will happen and it will be properly resourced because it is not just about growing the World Cup property. It will look at women and girls, wheelchair rugby league and an under-20s competition and a potential international nines. It's a big piece of work."