‘All clubs will need to be up to speed’ – Leeds Rhinos chief Gary Hetherington on IMG’s potential impact on rugby league and Super League

LEEDS RHINOS chief executive Gary Hetherington has issued a warning to fellow Super League clubs that they will ‘need to be up to speed’ with the onset of IMG.

A 12-year partnership with new stakeholders IMG has led to plans to ‘re-imagine’ the sport, with criteria for grading each club set to be revealed to the clubs next month.

That deal followed the coming together of the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League after the two bodies split in 2019.

For Hetherington, the IMG revolution is a ‘huge opportunity’ for rugby league, but every club needs to be on board and go with the plans.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the game. Constitutionally what has happened over the past 12 months is on a par with the biggest things that have ever happened in the game,” Hetherington said.

“Clubs and rugby league have to harness this opportunity. The involvement and change to bring the game back together has been important.

“The introduction of IMG, to bring a global leader in with a 12-year partnership is unknown for our sport. It is a really exciting time for rugby league, fans, coaches and players and there will be opportunities that we will need to grasp

“IMG will bring, with their connectivity and resources, a new phase and all clubs will need to be up to speed but we are conscious that we need to be up to speed as well.”

Going forward into the 2023 Super League season and Hetherington is in no doubt that the Rhinos are still in a rebuilding phase under Rohan Smith, despite the Australian guiding Leeds to the Grand Final in a whirlwind year.

That being said, Hetherington is under no illusions about how difficult the upcoming season will be given the competitiveness of the top flight.

“Every club aspires to win trophies and that’s what we aspire to as well. We are in a rebuilding phase but Rohan has been here six months now and there have been lot of changes in the backroom staff from last year and quite a lot of on-field changes so we are looking forward to pick up where we left off.

“It’s going to be a really, really competitive season, it’s probably going to be the most even competition for many many years at both the top and bottom.”