COULD joining the NRL in Las Vegas lead to closer collaboration between Super League and their Australian counterparts – and potentially even a takeover?

Warrington Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick certainly appears open to the idea having jumped at the chance to be a part of what he describes as “a seminal moment” for rugby league.

The NRL are heading to the US entertainment capital for the second year in a row after a successful doubler-header earlier in 2024 but this time, Super League have been invited along for the ride.

The Wire and Wigan Warriors will open the show at the state-of-the-art Allegiant Stadium and for Warrington, it will be the first time they have played a league fixture outside of Europe.

The idea of the NRL potentially taking over Super League has been mooted on both sides of the globe, and Fitzpatrick sees this as a chance to show both sides can work together effectively.

“There’s only two full-time competitions in the world, so it makes sense to work closer together,” he said.

“This game can be seen as dipping our toe in the water with it and seeing how it works.

“We’ve been working on this for a while and the NRL have been fantastic with it.

“Of course, they see the opportunity with the UK market, but why not look at it?

“They’ve got a lot more financial clout and push behind them than Super League has, so it does make sense to work closer in some capacity.”

The game will be a Wigan home fixture, with the Warriors and their chief executive Kris Radlinski the driving force behind getting the English game involved with the Vegas venture.

And when the idea was put to him about Warrington being involved, Fitzpatrick’s response was instant.

Fitzpatrick and Wigan chief executive have worked together to take Super League to Las VegasFitzpatrick and Wigan chief executive have worked together to take Super League to Las Vegas (Image:

“Nanoseconds,” he said when asked how long it took him to accept Radlinksi’s offer.

“Kris and I meet up regularly and talk about how we can make rugby league more mainstream and get more eyeballs on it.

“We spoke about the Vegas project and watched it this year green with envy.

“We’ve spoken about it for a while, so we reached out to (NRL supremo) Peter V’landys and he responded positively so we were good to go. Since then, it’s been full steam ahead.

“I think this is a seminal moment for the sport.

“I’ve been involved with professional rugby league – as a player and an administrator – since 1997 and we’ve been to the home of rugby union at Twickenham, to the Camp Nou, but the opportunity this presents is bigger and better than anything that has gone before.

“It’s the entertainment capital of the entire world. The NRL are great operators, they’ve been there this year and picked up the learnings, so next year is going to be bigger and better.

“To be part of that conversation is just fantastic and not just for us, Wigan and Super League but for the whole of the British game.

“It’s going to be an excellent experience for us, for our players and their families and our supporters.”

More than 40,000 fans attended this year’s NRL Vegas double-header, in which Manly Sea Eagles faced South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos took on Sydney Roosters.

It is estimated around 5,000 fans travelled from England for the event, raising hopes of a number in advance of that now English teams are involved, with England’s women’s team to play a Test match against Australia on the same day.

Fitzpatrick admitted both clubs were “rolling the dice” financially with this move but says more fans heading Stateside would mitigate those risks.

“You don’t get many opportunities like this,” he said.

“It is a financial risk and we are rolling the dice with it, but we’re confident we can make it work.

“I’d just encourage as many of our supporters as possible to get themselves out there. It’s going to be one of those “I was there” occasions.

“The more fans buy tickets, the more we can mitigate the risks.

“I expect Allegiant Stadium will sound like The Halliwell Jones Stadium on the day!

“We’re going to go en masse – we’ve travelled in great numbers before and we need to create a great atmosphere.

“Wigan-Warrington games are always classics so we know that won’t disappoint, but add into that the stage and the opportunity we have.

“It’s going to be a party that starts on Monday and finishes on Sunday, with the best game in the world at the end of it.”