The NRL's plan to sell itself in the United States with a Round 1 clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles has suffered a catastrophic blow with the Redfern club voicing reservations about the idea.
In talks with The Daily Telegraph, Rabbitohs chief executive Blake Solly expressed his concerns with the idea and its proximity to the Rugby League World Cup.
"We have always been consistent that if it is part of a long-term strategy in the US, we would like to be part of it
"But given that it is late August and the game is supposed to happen in March, and we don’t have any concrete information, we’re not sure how we can succeed there in 2024.
There is also the complication of the World Cup, All-Stars in Rotorua. We think the game would be best served by holding on and doing it properly in 2024.”
This development is an especially cruel blow to the NRL's plans as they were hoping to utilise the club's connection to film star Russell Crowe to draw U.S. audiences.
According to Sports Confidential, the St George Illawarra Dragons are the front runners to replace South Sydney should the game go ahead, with a senior official at the club having already been approached about the idea.
NRL Chief Execute, Andrew Abdo and ARL Commission Chairman, Peter V'Landys remain fond of the idea bring rugby league to America, with the pair set to visit the United States to tour stadiums and garner interest in the concept before attending the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.
Top-flight rugby league hasn't been seen on the American continent since the Denver Test between England and New Zealand in 2018.