World Club Series plans for 2018 “more or less” finalised, says Roger Draper

The plans for a World Club Series event in the UK in 2018 are “more or less there”, Super League boss Roger Draper has said.

Speaking exclusively in this Monday’s League Express, Draper revealed that a two-game series between Super League and the NRL’s best is pretty much finalised – with a weekend already pencilled in.

“Yes, it’s more or less there,” Draper said.

“We’ve not announced anything yet obviously, but both ourselves and the NRL have earmarked the 24th and 25th of February as World Club Series weekend.

“That’s hugely encouraging because this time last year, we didn’t have anything confirmed.

“At this time, the plan is for two games in the United Kingdom – on the 24th and 25th of February.”

Both Wigan and Hull have insisted they will be back from their trip to Australia in February to play in the series if they qualify – and Draper revealed the logistics surrounding those plans: saying their game in Wollongong will NOT be the season-opener.

“No, it won’t start the season,” he confirmed.

“Round One of Super League will take place here as normal, a week before they go. Then they’ll jump on a plane and play their Round Two game. The one they will miss is the week after – Hull v Wigan will be a Round Three game and it’ll be played later in the year. We’ll make sure the season goes off with a bang here before the two sides go to Australia.”

Draper also reiterated a stance from earlier in the year he does not envisage any major changes to the league structure next year – again hinting any significant changes will come in 2019.

“My recommendation has always been to make some fine tweaks next year,” he said.

“Then we’ll have a good debate for what the structure will be like in the three years leading up to the end of the current broadcast rights.

“If the League Leaders’ Shield is awarded after 23 rounds and things like that fair enough, but if we’re going to do any big changes, my recommendation has been do them for 2019.”