New Zealand is preparing a bid to host the Rugby League World Cup for the first time since the 1987 final was played at Eden Park.
NZRL chairman Scott Carter has returned from last week's International Federation executive meeting in Singapore having made an early submission to co-host the 2017 tournament with Australia.
The bid will depend on the success of New Zealand's co-hosting of this October's Four Nations tournament, but Carter is increasingly confident international league can be a commercial success in this country.
"It's very early days and we need to get through the Four Nations and really prove New Zealand can successfully host tournaments, but yes, we have expressed and interest and begun discussions with Australia about joint hosting," Carter told the Star-Times last night.
"We're absolutely, definitely, on an upward spiral: when I first came in as chairman I did think it was remarkable that the Kiwis didn't play at home very often and we said we wanted them playing in New Zealand every year, to bring major games here and start filling stadiums, and we've achieved those things. The Kiwis are really making games with Australia very, very close and that's what people come to see – not foregone conclusions.
"Stadia around the country are certainly bidding very keenly for rights to host the Kiwis, which is indicative they believe they can attract crowds, so we think it's quite feasible."
The World Cup was held in Britain in 1995 and 2000, in Australia last year, and is scheduled for 2013 in Britain again, then four-yearly thereafter. New Zealand also strengthened its international voice at the Singapore meeting, with a new constitution agreed that will guarantee the NZRL, Australia and Britain permanent executive seats, subject to sign-off by the smaller nations.
New Asia-Pacific and European Federations are to be formed, each having a seat at the table and giving a voice to the minnows. Until now, New Zealand has struggled to maintain a board seat against competing claims from France.
New Zealand also demanded a rethink on distribution of world cup profits, after no prize money was handed out following last year's event, which the Kiwis won. Instead, the $4 million profits were earmarked for development work.
The NZRL is budgeting for a $1m hole in 2013 – roughly the amount it earns annually from test football.
"It's a real headache and we've already started earmarking reserves," said Carter. "We're really keen to ensure we don't go feast, feast, feast, famine."
- © Fairfax NZ News