SALFORD star Ryan Brierley believes Rugby League is getting on the right track in its bid to grow with the help of IMG and other partners.
Global media giants IMG are a year and a half into a twelve-year strategic partnership aimed at ‘reimagining’ the sport.
Much of their work so far has centred on the controversial grading system to determine top-tier participation.
But they have also agreed a deal which will see every Super League match televised live for the first time from this season, including on a new streaming service, SuperLeague+, run by IMG’s sister company Endeavour.
Clubs have been advised on their social media output and a recent deal with digital firm ScorePlay will enable broadcasters, clubs and players to use more video content.
And with the help of another sister company of IMG, the marketing agency 160over90, a fresh rebrand of Super League was recently launched.
Scottish international Brierley has seen first-hand how a sport can grow through his work as an agent in women’s football, with clients including England international Jess Park.
And he thinks Rugby League is now heading in the right direction too.
“I was at the Sky Sports launch the other week and all the video and content was brilliant, it was of a really high quality,” said the fullback.
“I’ve actually had a couple of RFL members reach out to me in regard to ideas, given what the football girls do.
“It’s nice to see them asking for opinions and trying to find ways to make things better and make the media better, how the game looks and making players stars.
“I’ll probably miss it in my time, but the young players coming through and people like Jai Field and Bevan French, they deserve to be made stars and I hope that continues.”
He added: “You need to make an attraction – why is Salford Red Devils or why is Rugby League attractive? If you can make it sexy in some bright lights and make it look bigger than it is, you’re onto a winner.”
Brierley also believes that, with the whole of Manchester to target, Salford is a club with huge growth potential, despite its recent financial issues.
“We were at the Trafford Centre the other weekend (for a season launch) and most people said they didn’t know who we were. That’s the whole point. We want to be in places where they don’t know us.
“There’s no point targeting the same fans who are coming every week. We need to branch out and make things bigger and better.
“But I do believe we’re in a real smart spot although there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on and off the field.
“On the field we’ve probably over-achieved the last two years. If we can just match that with the off-field stuff, which it looks like we’re doing at the moment, it puts us in good stead.
“Ultimately it does feel like we have turned a corner. Things are looking a bit more positive.
“I do believe, especially in this catchment area, that this club isn’t far off being something special.”