The Courier-Mail

Let’s jump on Hayne plane

- PETER BADEL

BRONCOS coach Wayne Bennett has urged the NRL to capitalise on Jarryd Hayne’s NFL fairytale by establishi­ng a rugby league footprint in the US.

Twenty-eight years after spruiking State of Origin in Los Angeles, Bennett believes it is time for NRL boss Dave Smith to get serious about selling the game to the US.

As revealed by The Cour- ier-Mail, the NRL has scuppered plans for Bennett’s Broncos to play an exhibition against Penrith in Hawaii in October, due largely to timing and insurance issues.

Bennett (pictured) said Hayne’s exploits with American football’s San Francisco 49ers was the perfect leverage point for the NRL to target a sports-mad country with a population of more than 320 million.

Bennett has been involved in rugby league’s two incur- sions into the US, coaching the Maroons in their 30-18 Origin exhibition loss to NSW in California in 1987 and leading Australia to a 36-24 win over the USA Tomahawks in Philadelph­ia in 2004.

“Jarryd has had a lot of publicity and we’re pleased for him because he’s one of ours,” Bennett said.

“It’s something I’m excited about, to see him doing so well. The Americans know more about rugby league than they ever did and a couple of games over there wouldn’t hurt going forward.

“But it has to be a bit more than a few games.

“Unless we are going to put money into it and support it, it’s not going to happen.

“I think we should (promote the NRL in America), but it’s another decision for the administra­tors.’’

Bennett received support from Souths counterpar­t Michael Maguire, whose Rabbitohs spent last pre-season in Arizona and previously played a trial in Florida.

“Rugby league has tried to be exposed there quite often and (Souths owner) Russell Crowe is passionate about trying to do that,” he said.

“I’m sure if the NRL does get behind it there is a massive population that will enjoy the full contact of what our games bring.

“I would support it if it’s the right thing for our club and the sport to expose ourselves on an internatio­nal level.’’

Bennett is determined to see the Broncos play in Hawaii next summer.

“I think we can do it in the pre-season,” he said.

“There is some talk about doing it then. America is a huge market, they love the body contact sports, but it’s a waste of time going there unless the NRL are going to put some resources into it.”

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