Wigan Warriors owner Ian Lenagan is not the sort of bloke who wastes time trying to call a “shovel” a “spade” or vice versa.
In an exclusive in-depth interview with the Illawarra Mercury’s Mitch Jennings this week, the UK business entrepreneur has an unquestionable passion for the game of rugby league.
In Australia this week for the historic Super League game at Wollongong’s own WIN Stadium on Saturday night, Mr Lenagan threw the gauntlet down to the NRL in no uncertain terms.
He clearly believes the NRL has a responsibility to grow the game internationally, just as he has done by bringing his own club half way around the world.
“I think [the NRL] is more than slightly dropping the ball,” Lenagan told the Mercury.
“Why on earth aren’t the NRL clubs’ recognising that their franchise would be worth 10s of millions [of dollars] if they would actually treat international club rugby league the right way.
“For the last 10 years it has been the best competition in the world and, because it’s the lead competition in the world, it needs to stop being so insular.
“I understand politics is a huge factor within the NRL, but they have a classic opportunity that they’re neglecting.”
That's not a shot across the bow of the NRL, it’s a shot straight between the eyeballs.
On Thursday, players from both Wigan and Hull will spread themselves throughout the schools in the Illawarra and the South Coast in a special community day ahead of Saturday’s historic clash between the two UK clubs at WIN Stadium.
The eyes of the rugby league world will be firmly on Wollongong this weekend as it takes a game of rugby league at the famous stadium by the sea direct via television into the UK, America and Canada.
It is amazing to think that two clubs from the UK will face off on Saturday night playing for premiership points in their home league.
This is not a “hit and giggle” exhibition.
To use an Australian phrase, this is “fair dinkum”.
Thank you Mr Lenagan and to your club for showing the foresight and courage to take on this challenge and at the same time making a unique piece of history.