its not a perception, its the truth
international RL has decades of development ahead of it to get really good crowds
for now im more worried about competition between the top tier ie nz, australia and england as thats where we can have some good close games
the rest is going to take a long time ie decades and hence why i dont mind these sides being padded with aussies
until scotland, ireland have SL teams, and even PNG an nrl team they will never get close to the big guns
edit union do a good job of selling ######, i dont know how we can match it tbh. union has many fans who dont go regularly but go to an international as its an event. RL fans are more discerning and in general wont pay hard earned to watch cr&p
Don't agree that PNG needs an NRL team to become competitive, a QLD Cup side and a system that gets the best juniors into NRL clubs would do nicely. The fact that there's only a n handful from a RL mad country of 6million is simple laziness.
As a fair compromise for giving them an NRL team the NRL could set up a salary cap exemption for PNG developed players and enforce a quota of 1-2 PNG juniors per Toyota Cup squad. This would make clubs search for the talent that is clearly there waiting, in 5-10 years it would make PNG competitive with the big 3 IMO. I think this is the best way to do it, as opposed to taking a massive risk in giving them an NRL team they could help the growth of the National team and give the country more local hero's.
I would start all this ASAP along with an annual mid-year game against NZ at origin time.
As for the rest, the goals for the next 5-10 years should be:
France - Getting a second SL side (maybe a third) and making them competitive without a load of Aussies.
Wales - Getting Scorpions into Championship, Getting Welsh born and bred players into the Crusaders line-up and into other SL teams.
Scotland & Ireland - Getting a Championship 1 teams mostly dependand on local players, having a few of these player progress to SL.
Rest of Europe - Getting strong domestic comps running, in some cases maybe a semi-pro team in a pre-existing League (Italy & Spain being the only likely candidates sparing something major)
USA - Introducing regional championships and having a top tier comp for the best clubs. Playing more internationals against local rivals (Canada, Jamaica etc) and stronger teams (Wales, PNG etc).
South Africa - Continue growing the game domestically, bringing NRL/SL trial games to the country. Also getting some juniors signed up by NRL clubs (solely on the clubs themselves to go looking), Du Plessis didn't work out but once one sticks alot of people will sit up and take notice.