Travel no problem as Ivan Cleary eyes off Las Vegas

Scott Bailey and Jasper Bruce |

Andrew Abdo (r), with Peter V’Landys (l) here, hopes to name the Vegas teams for 2025 in two weeks.
Andrew Abdo (r), with Peter V’Landys (l) here, hopes to name the Vegas teams for 2025 in two weeks.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary says he would have no issue with the logistics of playing in Las Vegas in 2025, as the NRL closes in on finalising the four touring teams.

The NRL is accepting submissions from clubs on next year’s event, with an announcement expected within weeks to allow for planning.

The Sydney Roosters have made no secret of their desire to return on an annual basis, if the NRL were to allow returning teams.

Manly owner Scott Penn had made similar claims, but Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold last weekend indicated his preference would be to not double-up straight away given the work required.

Cleary, however, has no such concerns.

“I’d love to go,” he said.

“I feel like if you’re given the chance to go, let’s go. It’s growing the game, the experience.

“I haven’t spoken to any of the clubs that went, but there’s just some realities to it with travel and whatnot.

“But it also looked like a pretty cool time. It was a great day for the game, I thought. If we get to go, we wouldn’t say no. I wouldn’t, anyway.”

Penrith already had an overseas trip to begin this year with the World Club Challenge in England, before returning to Australia and dropping their first match to Melbourne.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has no issue with the logistics of playing in Las Vegas in 2025. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

But Cleary still believed back-to-back pre-season travel would be worthwhile.

“It’s like going to Wigan,” he said.

“There were obviously some challenges around preparation there, but I felt like it was an honour to go.

“We took it on, had fun. Did it hamper our preparation? Probably, but that’s life.”

Penrith are one of several clubs to have mounted their case to the NRL for next year.

Financially it makes sense for the club, with the three-time defending premiers without a home ground next year while BlueBet Stadium is rebuilt.

Canberra will also make a strong case given the branding of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, while the prospect of bringing New Zealand fans with the Warriors could also be enticing.

North Queensland have also made a pitch, with claims that 2000 members immediately told the club they would travel, while Melbourne could also give the NRL a significant pre-season breakthrough in the Victorian market.

Other clubs, including Cronulla, are also known to be interested.

“We don’t want to sit on it and we want to make sure that we bring that to a head in the next couple of weeks,” NRL chief Andrew Abdo said.

“We want to have more people at the stadium, we want to have more people in America watching and following the game.”

The World Club Challenge could be an option for inclusion on the program, but that would require an NRL team to be on standby in case one of the four announced sides wins this year’s premiership.

“(We’re) looking at the World Club Challenge, looking at Super League games and also considering how we can get female athletes participating in America eventually,” Abdo said.

AAP