Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington has urged the whole of British Rugby League to get behind the Rugby Football League Chairman Simon Johnson and to try to demonstrate to the Australian Rugby League Commission that it has made a crucial error in deciding not to attend this year’s World Cup, with New Zealand also making a similar decision.
Johnson responded strongly to the Australian announcement, saying, “They believe the problems are insurmountable. The difficultly I think for us is that this selfish, parochial and cowardly decision is one that needn’t have been taken. The Rugby League World Cup organisers have bent over backward to offer every assurance to the Australians and to the Kiwis.”
And Hetherington, whose Emerald Headingley Stadium is set to play a major part in the World Cup, backs Johnson’s approach.
“I thought it was the correct response and we need the whole game to support it,” said Hetherington.
“Given the investment from the government, it is crucial that the tournament goes ahead and we all need to put pressure on the Aussies to recognise that they have made the wrong decision.
“The players need to be given a voice, and if they are I’m confident that a large majority of them will want to come here.
“It’s quite obvious that the ARLC has yielded to pressure from the NRL clubs and we’ve seen many times in Rugby League that clubs can’t be allowed to run the game, precisely because it leads to decisions like this.”
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