Rugby League: League proposes show in S Africa

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The Independent Online
SUPER LEAGUE is waiting for a reply from the National Rugby League in Australia to a proposal for a World Club Championship match in South Africa next February.

Discussions have already taken place about playing the match, between the British and Australian champions, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

"We feel that something like Brisbane versus Wigan would be a big draw there," Maurice Lindsay, the managing director of Super League, said.

The Australians have already agreed in principle to a World Club Championship before the start of next season and have even said that they would be willing to play in England. But Lindsay believes that the time is right for a showpiece fixture in a neutral country.

Although last season's expanded World Club Championship, involving all Super League teams in both countries, turned into a one-sided embarrassment, one-off matches between national champions have always been marketable and competitive.

Brisbane have already figured in two such world title deciders and are favourites to win the Australian Premiership again against Canterbury in the Grand Final on Sunday.

Wigan, equally strong favourites to win the British play-offs starting next weekend, have six players in the Dream Team, selected on performances in Super League this year.

They include Robbie McCormack, the Australian hooker who is looking for another club after being offered reduced terms by Wigan for next season.

Only two players from clubs which have failed to qualify for the play- offs are in the selection - the Sheffield Eagles prop, Dale Laughton, and Steele Retchless, the second-row forward from the London Broncos.

Perhaps the most intriguing selection, however, is that of Iestyn Harris as stand-off, despite the fact that he has started most of his games for Leeds this season at full-back. The Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, has sounded equivocal about the prospect of playing Harris at stand-off against New Zealand this autumn, but his unanimous selection there by the voting panel is a mark of the impact he has had when moved to the role during matches.

Two of Harris' Leeds team-mates, Brad Godden and Adrian Morley, are also in the side, making them the second-best represented club.

Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers, who play in the First Division Grand Final at Huddersfield on Saturday, are being urged to consider a joint application to join Super League.

At present, the winner of that match has the right to apply for elevation, but Bob McDermott, the chairman of the First and Second Division Association, believes that they would have a better chance together.

The clubs were originally supposed, with Castleford, to form a new team called Calder for the first season of Super League, but that proposal was rejected by supporters of all three teams. But McDermott feels that by pooling their players and whatever finance they could raise, they could make a case that would be hard to resist.