By STEVE MASCORD
NEW York City Rugby League has announced at its formal launch in Liverpool that three NRL clubs will visit the Big Apple for trials next February.
The new club will also host Challenge Cup games next year and the draw for the knockout competition will be held there in the coming week.
Wilby would not name the NRL teams involved but said the games would likely be held at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and tickets would be on sale by the end of next month.
“The exciting thing is we’re trying to put a season together – we’re trying to put 20, 25 games together,” Wilby said at the British Music Experience museum on the Liverpool waterfront.
“One thing we wanted to inform people of today is we will play three NRL teams in February of next year.
“Those are pretty much signed off and sealed now. They’ll be announced at a later date but we are very excited about playing those three teams.
“They’ll be trial games for the NRL teams.
“They’ll come to New York.”
Wilby said convincing three NRL clubs to travel to New York was “not as expensive as you would think.
“It’s an attractive proposition coming over to New York and I think we’ve put an attractive package together.
“Teams are looking at not just coming over to New York but spending a few weeks in the States.
“We’re hoping tickets will be on sale at the back end of April.”
The club has partnered with local authorities in Liverpool for marketing, with NYCRL to help promote the sport in Merseyside and the area in the United States.
The club has a coach “in mind” and he would be announced at the end of April, the CEO said. Experienced coach Iestyn Harris and Hull KR half Ryan Brierley were interested members of the audience at the the launch.
New York City were passed over for League 1 inclusion next year, in favour of Ottawa. “There was an initial sense of disappointment,” Wilby said, adding that the visits of NRL teams “gives us an opportunity to prove we should have been in in ’21.”
But Wilby said the club would adhere to the Super League salary cap next season. They would “potentially” spend the full cap of £2.1 million.
The Challenge Cup games would likely be played at a university stadium. New York will enter the draw at round one.
“We’ve also got two international teams who will come over and play against us in August (2021) before the World Cup and we’ve got some other USA-based games … California, USA All Stars…,” said Wilby.