Former Catalan Dragons coach Trent Robinson is urging his fellow Australians to help strengthen the English game and called on organisers to include Super League teams in the NRL Nines in 2015.
Robinson, who was Super League coach of the year in 2011, is preparing his Sydney Roosters side for Saturday’s World Club Challenge against Wigan Warriors at the Sydney Football Stadium.
He took the opportunity at a press conference on Tuesday to beat the drum for the English game in the wake of Sam Burgess’ decision to switch codes at the end of the season, moving from league side South Sydney Rabbitohs to union outfit Bath.
“We’re in a really healthy state here at the moment and I really think we should be supporting the Super League as well,” said Robinson, whose club will be the first to host the annual challenge game in Australia since Brisbane Broncos staged it in 1994.
“Sam going has been a bit about the success of the Rugby League World Cup and the way that he played and we need to understand down here that that game in England and France is really important to our product and we need to support it.
“For us to play Wigan - two iconic teams - here will showcase the game and showcase both leagues.
“I think there has been a lot of interest from Australian fans about the game. It’s important to re-invigorate the Australian public about the importance of the World Club Challenge.”
As part of his preparation for Saturday’s clash with the Super League champions, Robinson split his squad last weekend between the inaugural NRL Nines in Auckland and a trial match in Newcastle.
The nine-a-side event is set to become a permanent fixture in the pre-season calendar Down Under after capacity crowds watched the inaugural two-day contest, and Wigan coach Shaun Wane revealed his club had been keen to take part.
“We would have loved to have done that,” said Wane, whose squad watched the event after playing New Zealand Warriors in a trial match in Hamilton 48 hours earlier. “Hopefully we can do it next year.
“I thought it was a great spectacle, really well supported. If we could put a team in that and play in the World Club Challenge the week after it would be fantastic.”
Robinson said: “I think having some teams in Super League would be great. Having their top four teams come down and play would be a great concept.”
Wigan arrived in Sydney on Monday night and spent Tuesday morning at Redfern Oval, where they took part in an opposed training session with South Sydney, who are coached by Wane’s Wigan predecessor Michael Maguire.
“It was a good session against Souths,” Wane said. “It was quite intense, it got a bit tasty at times, which is just what we needed. It was a good aggressive session, the players will be feeling it.”
Saturday’s game will be played under NRL rules featuring two referees, with World Cup official Ben Cummins in charge, assisted by fellow Australian Gerard Sutton.