STEVEN Broomhead MBE says he will be lobbying on behalf of rugby league fans for a positive solution to the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand from this autumn's Rugby League World Cup due to Covid-19 concerns.

Organisers have held 'constructive discussions' about how to move forward following the Australian Rugby League Commission and New Zealand Rugby League announcing last week that they would not be sending teams to England for the tournament which is due to start on October 23.

But Professor Broomhead, who is vice chairman of Warrington Wolves and chief executive of Warrington Borough Council, refers to the competition being 'devalued' and adds that a 'disservice' has been done to the organisers by a 'non-collegiate' move.

"It is with enormous disappointment that Australia and New Zealand announced that they intend to withdraw their men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams from the Rugby League World Cup this year," he said.

"Given that a national announcement was made earlier this month by tournament organisers that RLWC2021 would be going ahead as planned, there is a sense of profound sadness for rugby league fans at home and around the world, of the news that two of the game’s great nations will not be competing.

"The pandemic has affected the entire world, but what cannot be doubted is the painstaking, meticulous preparations of the RLWC tournament organisers in putting in place reasonable measures for the tournament to proceed, and indeed, succeed. To therefore receive the news, quite suddenly, of Australia and New Zealand dropping out, does a disservice to the Herculean efforts of tournament organisers and sadly devalues the entire competition.

"To have made this announcement so suddenly appears a somewhat non-collegiate move at a time when we all need to come together as we continue our global recovery from the pandemic.

"I will therefore be working alongside our proud club and other partners across Warrington, to continue our support of the tournament’s organisers and to lobby on behalf of Rugby League fans everywhere, so that we can ensure a positive solution and outcome to last week’s damaging announcement."