1st December 2017, 17:27 | steve_mascord

We Got Issues: Is Super League's day in the sun about to dawn?

We Got Issues: Is Super League's day in the sun about to dawn?

By Steve Mascord

JAMES Roby, one of Super League’s most decorated and famous players, was described in the Australian media this week as a “secret weapon”.

Earlier in the tournament, Wigan and Ireland hooker Mickey McIlorum was dubbed a “surprise packet” and his Wolfhounds team-mate Kyle Amor – the St Helens giant – reported in commentary to be club-less.

We Got Issues isn’t repeating these comments to deride our antipodean colleagues; no doubt we’ve made much worse gaffes over the years and been even more condescending.

The purpose of reporting such parochialism is to illustrate what an England upset in the World Cup final against Australia at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday can do for Super League, and how superbly circumstances are – largely by co-incidence – set up to take advantage of such a result.

After the 1982 and 1986 Kangaroos cut a swathe through Britain, interest in the Sydney premiership became so intense there that week-old VHS videos produced by a company called Micron flew out of rental stores in the north.

Should Aussie rugby league fans decide by late Saturday that Roby, Luke Gale, Jermaine McGillvary, Kallum Watkins, Sean O’Loughlin and the rest are actually quite big deals, they’ll not have to go to such extreme lengths to keep tabs on their careers.

They’ll be able to see them play again, live, in just two months.

Wigan and Hull are doing battle in a full-scale Super League game at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium on February 10. The World Club Challenge between Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos are contesting the World Club Challenge six days later at the Victorian capital’s AAMI Park. And the day after that, South Sydney play Wigan and St George Illawarra meet Hull at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.

“Fish where the fish are” was one of the favourite expressions of David Gallop when he was NRL CEO. There are lots of rugby league-hungry fish in Australia.

But this is not just about the happy co-incidence of English teams playing at big venues in Brisbane, Wollongong, Melbourne and Sydney to finish and start the first-class season Down Under over the summer.

It’s about developments which, unlike James Roby, the Aussie media knows and can’t stop talking about.

The proposed New York franchise in League 1 leaves Aussie reporters completely besotted. Since the World Cup started – with big figurehead Ricky Wilby in town for the duration as a reporter – the stories about the team have not stopped.

Mick Potter coach. Ben and Shane Walker coach. Jarryd Hayne chased, not chased, and chased again.

Toronto Wolfpack are some sort of exotic animal to Australian fans, who constantly bombard the club’s social media channels demanding merchandise.

Aussie supporters who would not give the likes of Batley, Toulouse or Oxford a second thought clamour for information about proposed franchises in Hamilton Ontario, Boston, Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, NRL clubs look down their noses even at expanding to Perth – a place James Graham wants Super League to target now there are direct flights to London.

A perfect storm is brewing. If England are flogged on Saturday, perhaps the pre-season games in Australia will suffer commercially.

But an England win followed by Super League’s first match south of the equator, a packed house in Melbourne and NRL stars leaving to play rugby league in North America and a once derided competition will start to look positively glamorous.

That is, glamorous to those who once worked hardest to deride it. Super League can fill the void left by the NRL's inward looking tendencies - even on the NRL's own turf.

Why knows? People there may even ending up knowing who James Roby is.