Creagh open to London-based NRL team

Ben Creagh has thrown his support behind the plan to have a London-based NRL team, saying it is the way forward to grow rugby league.


The St George Illawarra captain, in England for the past week to play a World Club Series match against Warrington, accepted it would be quite taxing physically but said modern recovery techniques ensured it was feasible.

The idea of a London-based side has been proposed by wealthy British businessman and owner of the Super League’s Salford City Reds, Marwan Koukash – who claims to have an airline and chain of hotels already in support of his proposal.

Creagh said it was important for rugby league to continue to expand and he saw the value in an English side.

“It will be totally new to the sport and teams will just have to adapt,” the former NSW and Australia representative told AAP.

“If that’s the plan for the future and you want to grow the sport to be recognised worldwide, that’s the step forward to do it.

“Creating interest and bringing Australian sides to the UK, and bringing a UK side to Australia I think will be huge for the sport.

“There’s a long way to go before that is a real possibility but I think in the future I’d love to see it.”

While a London side would be hugely beneficial for the NRL from a financial standpoint, growing the competition in an entirely new region, adding extra revenue streams and broadcast options, the major concerns centre around the impact the travel would have on teams.

Creagh says with a carefully managed schedule, it is possible to burn a side out simply through international travel.

“I think (if you arrive) a week and a half before your game, you can definitely do it,” he said.

“I think it is definitely feasible. Logistically it will be hard with one team based over here.

“It will be tough for (the London-based team) to be over in Australia for long periods at a time, having to play games away from home. That’s probably the biggest challenge.”

Super coach Wayne Bennett, who has taken many sides to England to contest World Club Challenge matches during his decorated coaching career, was less enthusiastic about the concept.

“I suppose anything is possible, but I wouldn’t like to be that team,” Bennett said.

“Australia-England is a long haul and if you’re doing it every couple of weeks well, I wouldn’t want to be coaching that team.”