Why should you cheer St Helens in the NRL pre-season challenge

Do you follow the Super League?

Unfortunately, for most Australian and New Zealand rugby league fans, the answer is no.

Disdain for the European rugby league system here in the southern hemisphere appears to have reached an all-time high in recent years. But an even higher percentage of fans seem to have no idea rugby league exists outside of the NRL.

The question is, why?

First, the Super League and lower tiers are struggling. Big changes are supposed to come, and they will be necessary to keep any hope of resuscitating the competition. The issues with the Super League are complex and will be the subject of another article.

Second, the majority of NRL fans feel a tribal connection to their club. It’s more difficult to get in touch with an English or French team on the other side of the world.

Also, the media coverage is outrageously bad. Mainly because there is none. You can watch every game of the NRL season and have no idea rugby league exists outside of this collection of islands below.

But the media can’t be blamed for that when NRL fans have made it clear they want nothing to do with the Super League.

So back to the question of why. I love the Super League. It’s a rugby league competition. In my opinion, the more rugby league the better. The Super League might not have such a huge talent pool or following, but damn it is entertaining. Any NRL fans reading this, please watch a replay of the 2020 Super League Grand Final – you won’t regret it.

But right now, it’s stuck in a recurring circle. NRL fans show no interest in rugby league outside of the southern hemisphere, so the media does not cover it. The Super League continues to suffer and NRL fans continue to show no interest.

This is where the St Helens trip to Australia comes in.

The NRL has promised a revamped, engaging and entertaining pre-season ‘challenge’, with an exhibition of what are essentially Test matches set to be higher than ever. St Helens will meet the Dragons in a ‘Red V Derby’ in Wollongong before traveling to Penrith for the World Club Challenge a week later.

Dragons and Panthers fans have already written off St Helens. But chances are neither team will field a full roster. Anything can happen in pre-season, and especially in a clash between clubs from different parts of the world.

If St Helens puts on a show for Australian crowds, maybe young fans who have no memory of the Super League war and who may have never even heard of St Helens will start lending a hand there attention. Maybe they will google Super League matches and realize that the season is about to start. Maybe they will find that some matches are broadcast on the same platform as all NRL matches.

And, maybe, they will look at it.

CLICK HERE for a seven-day free trial to watch NRL on KAYO

The Super League has its problems. But more visibility for rugby league, all over the world, can only be a good thing for the sport. So, rugby league fans (with the understandable exception of Dragons and Panthers fans), if you support St Helens in February, you support all of rugby league.

Help shape the future of The Roar – take our quick survey for your chance to WIN!

Sports Grp2

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button