SEVEN of the EIGHT NRL finals sides will reject an invitation to play Super League runners-up Warrington next February report The Daily Telegraph (Australia).
At present NRL Champions Cronulla Sharks are set to face Wigan Warriors next year in the traditional showdown with the location of the match still not decided.
Melbourne and Warrington the two runners-up are also supposed to meet, but the problem is Melbourne want to bypass the 35,000km round trip.
Third-placed Canberra, also have no interest, nor do the Cowboys, the current holders of the trophy. Brisbane, Penrith , Canterbury and Gold Coast Titans are also unwilling to make the trip.
An agreement between Super League and the NRL is that two Australian teams must travel to England, but there isn’t any rules on which teams make the trip.
The two games are scheduled for February 16 and 17 — less than two weeks after the Auckland Nines and while trial matches are scheduled.
Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy has no interest in increasing the pressure on his players and told the Daily Telegraph
“We do have some serious concerns about travelling across to the other side of the world two weeks out from our season starting for what is effectively a trial match,’’
“We’ve had two trials matches locked in for a long time and that may be a better option for us as we look to build into next season.’’
Raiders CEO Don Furner added: “We haven’t been approached but certainly it’s not in our plans to be going over. We have trials planned and when we give our players their breaks.”
Cowboys football manager Peter Parr was even more blunt about the interest in the game.
“I would have to speak to the coach (Paul Green) — and I can’t speak for him — but I would suggest we’d be reluctant. It’s a long way to go for a game that doesn’t mean anything,” Parr said.
Broncos chairman Dennis Watt said: “Our club has a full program set for 2017 and hasn’t planned for an overseas trip.”
Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher said the club already had six players on Four Nations duty and it was never on their radar.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley added: “I’d have to talk to (coach) Neil Henry but we have our trials locked in — one in Northern Territory, another in New Zealand. We are contracted to both. At this late stage, it (going to England) would be unlikely.”