Gary Hetherington urges Challenge Cup focus

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington is advising his colleagues on the Super League board not to overlook the Challenge Cup or the international game in any strategic plan they prepare going forward.

Super League CEO Robert Elstone is looking to revamp and modernise the elite competition, but Hetherington is anxious that the Challenge Cup, which has suffered a disastrous decline in crowd figures in recent years, should not be forgotten.

Speaking to League Express, Hetherington said: “The Challenge Cup is a significant asset to the game.

“We have to have a plan to reinvigorate the Challenge Cup. The responsibility lies with the whole game. It needs a collaborative approach from the RFL and Super League and also the clubs at all levels of the game.

“Restructuring the other competitions shouldn’t be done without considering the Challenge Cup.”

Hetherington admits that he has no complaints about the creation of a separate executive for Super League, despite his initial doubts.

“I wasn’t in favour of the separation from the RFL that has been created. But it was a democratic process which delivered that outcome so it’s now crucial that every part of the game should be on the same page when it comes to strategic planning.

“That also extends into our role in the development of the international game.

“The current overseas interest could be a huge opportunity for the game, but it could also be a threat.”