Revealed: The NRL stars chosen to sell the game to Americans

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Campbell Graham, Adam Reynolds and Aaron Woods have been earmarked as the ambassadors tasked with spreading the rugby league gospel ahead of the NRL’s historic Las Vegas venture.

Manly will take on South Sydney in the opening match at Allegiant Stadium on March 3 (AEDT), as part of a historic double-header which also includes a clash between the Roosters and Broncos. The matches, which will be shown in prime time in the United States via the Fox network, mark the first time that premiership matches have been staged outside of Australia or New Zealand.

The four participating clubs have been asked to nominate a player to participate in a series of promotions in America from December 9-15 to help generate interest and ticket sales. That includes attending the Raiders-Vikings NFL game on December 10, a media event at Allegiant Stadium two days later and other promotional opportunities, potentially in Utah and Los Angeles.

The NRL is yet to rubber-stamp the ambassadors, although Souths have put forward Kangaroos centre Graham and the Sea Eagles have proposed former NSW and Australian forward Woods. The Broncos were initially angling for Pat Carrigan, who is holidaying in America, but are now leaning towards premiership-winning halfback Reynolds. The Roosters are still in the process of finalising their pick, with several players on a shortlist.

“Aaron would be a great ambassador for the game,” said Manly CEO Tony Mestrov.

“As well as playing, he currently works in media so he would be the ideal person to represent the club and the NRL.”

Campbell Graham is looking forward to spreading the league gospelCredit: Getty

Campbell is yet to return to full training with the Rabbitohs after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.

“On the field, Campbell’s exploits speak for themselves,” said South Sydney CEO Blake Solly.

“He is a Kangaroos World Cup winner and was awarded the George Piggins Medal for 2023, the club’s highest honour.

“Off the field, Campbell is intelligent, articulate and will have some fun promoting the game in the US.”

Manly veteran Aaron Woods shapes as an ideal NRL spruiker.Credit: Getty

The players will head overseas for the charm offensive just weeks after the NRL released an advertisement for the US market. “No pads. No helmets. No fear” was the tagline for a 30-second package of big hits and spectacular tries that will be shown on Fox in America.

About 15,000 tickets have been sold to the double-header and the NRL are hopeful of packing out the 65,000-seat stadium.

The NRL is hoping South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe and Manly fan Hugh Jackman will play some role in promoting the bold venture prior to the season kick-off.

“It’s going to be an exciting opportunity,” Mestrov said.

Broncos veteran Adam Reynolds.Credit: Getty

“We are obviously going over for two competition points, but for the players and staff it will be a life experience.

“It’s an amazing place and the stadium is absolutely state of the art. The players are really excited about playing there and hopefully it all goes well for growing the game in the US.

“We all know we need to look at broader markets and this is an exciting step from the NRL. We’re fully behind it.”

The 2024 matches are the first step in the NRL’s five-year plan to gain a foothold in a potentially lucrative new market.

“There’s no point going ahead with this event unless the NRL is serious about successfully promoting the game in the US market,” Solly said.

“It was great to hear the fact that it will be on live TV in the US in March and we look forward to seeing the other plans the NRL have to make sure the event is a success.”

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