The New Zealand Warriors could play Super League giants Wigan in other games around the world over the next few years as the clubs look to cement their relationship.
The two sides play each other at Waikato Stadium on Wednesday night. The Warriors are using the game as a trial for the upcoming NRL season, while for Wigan it's a warmup game ahead of the World Club Challenge game against the Roosters on February 22.
In the future, though, games between the clubs could be used to help spread league around the world.
The initial connection between the two clubs came from Dean Bell, the Warriors' general manager of football operations and Wigan legend, who played a pivotal role in the signing of Sam Tomkins.
Bell revealed there have been high level talks between the owners of the two clubs in London about further fixtures around the globe.
"The game down in Hamilton is an extension of where we can take things and it's all due to the fact they won their competition up there and are coming down for the World Club Challenge," Bell told Sunday News.
"But we'd like to think that this is just the start of it and in the future we can build some exciting opportunities with games.
"We could play them halfway between here and there.
"I know all of our owners and especially with Eric Watson being up there and their owner Ian Lenagan being partly based in London they've met up for a few meetings and they've had a few ideas themselves."
Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah sees the relationship between the clubs as a win-win for both parties.
"We are arranging quite a lot of interaction for when they come over, we're going to have a big open, opposed training session with them and do some work with them in that regard as well.
"We'll also transfer more and more ideas with them.
"This is the start of things, transferring information among each other is one of the biggest things and there might be opportunities for player swaps or more direct dealings regarding player transfers as well.
"We think there might be some commercial opportunities about supporting each other on joint membership and merchandise sales. So there are a lot of things to talk about."
Scurrah will meet up with Wigan chairman Lenagan and their general manager, Kris Radlinski, while they're in New Zealand and they will have talks about taking their relationship further.
Neither side will field their strongest possible team in Hamilton, but the Warriors side named for that clash yesterday will be stronger than the one that takes on the Titans at North Harbour Stadium today. Scurrah anticipates a decent sized crowd on Wednesday.
"Accepting with trials you get a big walkup and the expectation is that the crowd will be around the 8000-10,000 mark, given that there's a lot of acclivity with the Nines, that's taking a lot of publicity," he said.
"But I suspect it will ramp up and they'll get quite a good crowd on the night."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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