The NRL’s experiment of playing the 2019 season opener in the US could be over before it’s even started.
The proposed idea could be scrapped as the NRL are unwilling to wear a loss of up to $1 million for the match.
According to Fairfax Media, unless a knight in shining armour helps underwrite the event within the next few days, the experiment will be shelved just six months after CEO Todd Greenberg expressed his desire for a first regular season match outside Australia.
Emerging news of a push for another international Test match between New Zealand and Tonga has also dampened the US opener as they look to make up for the condemned Denver experiment mid-season.
The NRL were hoping to use their ‘Hollywood’ connections to grow the game in the US, with South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe and Manly fanatic Hugh Jackman supporting the idea.
The Rabbits and Sea Eagles were an option to play the season-opener in Los Angeles, with the match scheduled to take place on a Sunday afternoon here in Australia, one week before the other 14 teams player their Round 1 game.
Privately, the NRL have conceded the proposed game is hanging in the balance with projections its bottom line could take a hit far in excess of $500,000 dollars.
Their only hope now is to pray an independent sponsor emerges and contributes a large amount of money to help prop up the game.
But given the head office have been trying to manage their books on the match for a number of months now, the situation looks dire.
With clubs looking to lock in their pre-season schedules, meaning requiring certainty around whether the US experiment is a go, it leaves the NRL in a sticky situation to work out venues and broadcasting rights.
Knowing the season-opener is unlikely to go ahead, Greenberg is looking into delivering a boost for Test nations New Zealand and Tonga as the New Zealand Rugby League is aiming for another mid-season US international.
NZRL will be looking at powerhouse Tonga to help restock their $400,000 loss from this years Denver test and revive the international game for both nations.