Tony Clubb hopes more Super League clubs branch out and take home games on the road – as he prepares to face Catalans Dragons in Barcelona.
Wigan played a Super League game in Wollongong, NSW last year and this Saturday they get to play at a new venue in their glorious history – the iconic Camp Nou.
Veteran Clubb believes the ground-breaking venture will only help strengthen Super League’s profile and believes more clubs should be pushing the envelope.
“I don’t know why people haven’t tried to do it more,” he said.
“I know it sits well as Catalans have the Challenge Cup and we are the current champions but I think a lot of teams should look to do things like that, expand the game and make it look better.
“I’m not a football person but everyone knows it’s a massive, iconic stadium. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. I know it’s going to look pretty empty but it will be such a great experience. Not just for Wigan and Catlans but for our sport in general.
“We’re always trying to raise the profile of this sport and want to do good things and I think this will be a fantastic thing.
“People who haven’t even heard of rugby league, in Spain or France, there’s a lot of people even in Wigan who are not big fans but are football fans who will be interested.
“I went to the Riversiders and they said Wigan are taking between five and six thousand. That’s massive isn’t it?
“A lot of teams in this league don’t get that at home, never mind traveling to Barcelona. It’s such an iconic stadium people will want to go. It’s not too far, it’s probably not that expensive and Barcelona is such a nice place to go for a weekend. On top of that you’re going to see the stadium and go to a rugby league game.
“It’s exciting times, not just for us but the sport.”
The game in Barcelona will be followed by a match at another historic football ground – Liverpool’s Anfield, which is staging the Magic Weekend later this month. Wigan face Warrington in Saturday’s headlining game.
“It’s an exciting month for us, it really is,” said Clubb. “It’s not only for us, Catalans, Warrington, but for our sport.
“I think the Magic Weekend concept is great, I really do. I was talking to a few of the lads over is Australia and they’ve brought it in now.”
This exciting fortnight, Clubb says, contrasts with the post-Easter schedule which he says damages the sport.
“I’m not a big fan of the Easter period. I think you have the Good Friday games and then games tend to tip off, you get big scores, 70-odds and it doesn’t sit well with our sport,” he said, nodding to Warrington (54) and St Helens (62) both posting big scores.
“It’s good if you’re winning them but if you put them on telly and professional teams are getting beaten 72-10 or something like that it doesn’t look good on our sport.
“To raise the profile of our sport, I feel if you were to get rid of that – do something different on that weekend. I don’t know the answer to it.”