NRL clubs re-considering desire to play in Las Vegas after 'horror stories' emerge

The four clubs set to play in Las Vegas have experienced a range of logistical issues.

Reece Walsh and Aaron Woods, pictured here before the NRL's opening round in Las Vegas.
Reece Walsh (L) was among a number of players who struggled to get a visa to travel to the United States for the NRL's opening round in Las Vegas. Image: Getty

If you're a fan of one of the teams not involved in the NRL's Las Vegas extravaganza next month, don’t automatically assume you'll be catching your club in Sin City in the near future. Ten clubs reportedly expressed interest in being involved from 2025 on, but that was back in July when details about the trip and the cost and logistics were a bit sketchy.

But as D-Day approaches – Manly will meet Souths and the Roosters will play Brisbane in the historic double header at Allegiant Stadium on March 3 (AEDT) – many of the clubs left behind are adopting a wait and see attitude to future ventures. They have read and heard the stories about the problems the four "early adopters" have encountered just to get to Vegas and prepare for the opening round.

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From accommodation, to gaining visas for players to locking in grass fields to train on - while also ensuring player safety while there - the challenges have been many and varied. And then there's the cost.

The four clubs were hoping the bill would be around the same as an interstate away game, with the NRL picking up the rest of the tab. But those costs have blown right out, with the NRL asked to dig deeper to cover the difference.

Aaron Woods, Campbell, Graham Spencer Leniu and Billy Walters.
Aaron Woods, Campbell, Graham Spencer Leniu and Billy Walters in Las Vegas.

'Horror stories' emerge from NRL teams playing in Las Vegas

One official told Yahoo Sport Australia: "It's important to sort the fact from the fiction before deciding whether you want to be involved in the future. There is a lot of excitement and hype surrounding this first trip and everyone is hoping it will be a great success.

"But we are also hearing a few horror stories. It hasn't been an easy exercise for the four clubs going. They are the guinea pigs. If they have a positive experience then that will carry a lot of weight. If not, you'd have to do a lot of weighing up before putting your club forward to go in the future."

The NRL has entered into a five-year plan to grow the game in the States by playing the opening round there until 2028. Asked about which clubs may be involved in the Vegas venture beyond 2024, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told Nine Newspapers: "No decisions have been made. We want to give all the clubs an opportunity to win over new fans, and start new relationships with franchises here, so we will have to rotate through that. We have to be strategic about who we bring here next. I don’t know who you need next.”

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