Harry Potter star and Rugby League fan Matt Lewis believes the sport can find a home in North America while planned expansions remain on course for Canada.
Lewis, 30, played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series and currently resides in Florida, backing the possible expansion of rugby league.
“I do think this expansion into Canada could be a game changer because we play at a different time of year to American football so there isn’t a clash there and I think that if we can get people to engage for a very small amount of time then they will buy into it,” Lewis told Sky Sports’ Golden Point podcast.
“I put the Leeds-Toronto game on a couple of months ago in a bar and all the Americans that were lined up on the bar having a few beers turned from whatever they were watching and they watched the game with me.”
Lewis revealed fellow friends from the US found the spectacle of Rugby League to be like no-other.
“[They] had no clue what was going on but they said ‘this is great, I’m into this’ and they liked the impact and the fact there are no helmets or pads”.
“If you could get people to watch it, you don’t have to get them to watch it for long and they’ll buy into it.”
Lewis believes league’s will need to sell personalities to attract an American viewership.
“I don’t know much about American football to be honest but I know Tom Brady, Odell Beckham Jr, Eli Manning – I don’t know who they play for or what they’ve done but I know their names, so I wonder if there is something there about selling personalities.”
The British actor currently stands as a vice-president of the Leeds Rugby Foundation charity and revealed his father introduced him to the sport having followed Leeds since the 1950’s.
“He was caned at school because he skipped a class to a cup final,” said Lewis, who admitted he got a lot of satisfaction “to give something back to him” by taking him to the Rhinos’ home ground at Headingley “and to introduce him to all these days”.
“What those lads do, week in week out, is freakish,” said Lewis, who believed rugby league players “deserve to be put on a pedestal, but I’ve never met a rugby league who felt they deserved it. It blows my mind how down to earth they are.”