Sam McCulloch – NRL/Super League Alignment

The NRL has a responsibility to take over and mentor the Super League whilst clubs could create an alliance or sister club in the UK. Super League is the 2nd biggest market but with the right promotion could be the new golden goose of Rugby League and it really wouldn’t take much of an outlay to do so.

Players, Coaches and Administrators in Australia and in the Super League want to see more money flow into the game and the only way beyond the usual sponsorship, crowd attendances, TV rights and merchandising is to stimulate a rise in the overall talent and competition in the UK.

For example the Sydney Roosters could align with Bradford Bulls much like they have with the Newtown Jets the benefits are obvious to both competitions sharing knowledge of advertising, marketing, strategies, skills, tactics, training methods, resources, coaches and players even a pathway for referees to up their skill level. If the NRL players/coaches/clubs want more money injected into the game before the next TV deal leveraging a better world game is where you will receive it and with the changes mentioned above would require a very small outlay of resources for a massive windfall.


Admin at club level on both sides needs serious looking at but NRL clubs are run much better than Super League ones think at what an alliance the Sydney Roosters or South Sydney could do for Bradford or Wakefield just by a mentoring relationship rather than ownership. Helping develop business models share knowledge on revenue streams, managing costs, talent recruitment, membership and crowds and attracting better corporate talent from both hemispheres.


Sydney Roosters could be headed by Robinson and he sends a person in his assistant stable say Jason Taylor to become new coach or assistant at Bradford ply his trade and swap over a young English coach to learn under Robinson in the toughest league in the world building a stable on both hemispheres sharing resources, plays, defensive strategies and coaching techniques and a creating a pathway of success for new and up and coming coaches on both sides rather than the burnout of some many potentially talented rookie coaches.

Look at the careers of sacked coaches Kearney, Henjak, Price, Griffin, Fittler and Taylor etc had big wraps on them all bumped to first grade before their time much like rookie players and were found wanting in the skill level and extra curricular knowledge required, Where as Michael Maguire, David Furner and Trent Robinson left an assistants role and went to Super League and learned the extras involved in being a first grade coach and look at the difference notably in Maguire’s case to his career the only successful coach of all Bellamy’s progeny to succeed in the NRL but outside of our backyard imagine what upcoming coaches from Super league could learn from watching Bellamy, Bennett, Maguire, Sheens and Stuart and then take the knowledge of the game back to the UK to mentor talent in Super League.


Player development: Sending our young guys over for swapped stints or apprenticeships if they haven’t scored a direct path through Under 20’s and Premier League rather than lose them to park footy send them over keep them as part of the system look at Jacob Miller brilliant young half but not quite ready for first grade and the NRL doesn’t take enough time to allow players to develop using the Super League as a second pathway and with the right coaching and time he could come back.

With a closer alignment will lift the standard of coaching and recruitment this will develop better young English players offering them more pathways rather than taking extra money to join Rugby Union and even bring a few back could spill a lot of money into the coffers of Super League from crowds and TV.

Having some of England’s best and upcoming over following the same path the Burgess boys we could have a full English roster playing in the NRL and bringing over a few imports for a mid year test against NZ or a series played on Origin weekend involving NZ, England, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and PNG (solving the problem of sub standard Origin weekends) imagine how good the sides from these nations could become by playing together on a regular basis look at the difference of NZ from the mid year test to their performance in the end of season imagine what it would do for England.

Superstar Imports allowing players who miss the NRL finals to be offered to their aligned Super League club at the end of the year instead of looking at Japanese rugby imagine the confidence a player like Benji Marshall, Jonathan Thurston, Robbie Farah Josh Dugan, Shaun Johnson and Jarryd Hayne mite get from playing a final series for Leeds, Wigan or their adopted Super league club to lift his spirit rather than sitting out a NRL finals series not to mention the exposure his sponsors, boost to crowd figures and revenue for their game over there not to mention the world of knowledge, training and mentoring English players.

Better International money will help us stop the SBW’s and Folau’s going to Rugby and then start stealing George North’s, Quade Cooper’s and James O’Connor’s to the Greatest Game of All.


Imagine the sponsorship opportunities of having 2 jersey on 2 sides of the world and the potential caliber of sponsors looking for a bigger audience outside of Australia and the UK. Marketing knowledge from both codes to examine membership and fan packages, increasing game day attendances, crowd experiences, Magic weekends, TV coverage and innovation, merchandising, player sponsorship combining the best knowledge from both codes, I for one like some of the things Super League does particularly Magic Weekend it could use some tweaking to use it to push into emerging markets but the concept is awesome.

Super League and the NRL could learn a lot from each other look at advertising from either leagues we have Jess Mauboy jibbering on they have Bradley Wiggins a national hero saying rugby league is the toughest sport in the world give this a watch:

Or there League of the Extraordinary advert:

Against Jess Mauboy:

Bon Jovi was better by far.

I for one cant wait to see how England goes with a forward pack of James Graham, The Burgess boys and backline of Tomkins, Hall etc and Widdop and Chase in the halves but how good could they become with some of the changes made above.

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