NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Hugh Jackman attends the "Missing Link" New York Premiere at Regal Cinema Battery Park on April 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly Sea Eagles have expressed a bold plan to kick-off an NRL season in the United States of America.

It was a plan which was progressed and had support from the NRL before COVID ruined the party.

What would be known as Round Zero, the idea was for two clubs to head to the United States of America and kick the season off a week before the remaining teams, before giving those two teams the week off to get over the jet lag and travel back from halfway around the world.

The only elite game of rugby league taken from Australia to the USA was a State of Origin "fourth" exhibition game in 1987, although England and New Zealand took a Test match to Denver with relative success a few years ago in terms of crowd size, although it ended in a financial mess.

DENVER, CO - JUNE 23: A general view of the rugby goal line pylon showing "Denver" and the Rugby League Test Match between England and the New Zealand Kiwis at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on June 23, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images)

There has often been talk about taking State of Origin matches to other parts of the world as part of the official series, although that has not yet materialised into anything concrete.

But the plan for an NRL season-opener to be held on the other side of the Pacific is back on the table, with The Sydney Morning Herald reporting the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles are once again holding discussions.

Reports suggest their unique position - with Russell Crowe owning the Rabbitohs, and Hugh Jackman as a fan of the Sea Eagles - could put them in in the mainstream US media, should the game occur.

It's understood the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles are targeting a 2023 introduction of the concept, and once again have support from NRL head office.

Manly chairman Scott Penn said it would be a success.

“No question, it makes total sense,” Penn told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“That’s the opportunity, to showcase the NRL and the spectacle of the game. I think there’s big potential.

“A couple of the NFL teams just played in London. To expand the game, we’d love to play. I’d love to encourage Hugh Jackman to support us and have Russell Crowe there to help make a spectacle of it.

“I’ve spoken to Peter and Andrew [Abdo, NRL chief executive] about it previously. Obviously COVID threw a big spanner into the works.

“We were always talking about how Manly-Souths would be an absolute cracker of a game. Having some heavyweight Hollywood talent on each side showing interest would be helpful.

“We are definitely interested. I see no reason why 2023 can’t be a possibility.”

Rabbitohs' CEO Blake Solly agreed with Penn.

“Clearly the pandemic put an end to the previous discussions about a game in the US,” Solly told the publication.

“However, if the ARLC and International Rugby League are serious about using an NRL premiership game as the starting point for a long-term strategy to grow the sport in the US from 2023, we would be keen to be part of it.”