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RL's World Club Series to stay in England

Press Association logoPress Association 16/05/2017 Ian Laybourn

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin lifts the World Club Series trophy at the DW Stadium. © Nigel French/PA Wire/PA Images/Press Association Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin lifts the World Club Series trophy at the DW Stadium. Singapore has emerged as a potential venue but the World Club Series is set to stay in England for 2018, according to Super League executive director Roger Draper.

Organisers are putting the final touches to the next series, pencilling in the weekend of February 24-25 and almost certainly sticking with two representatives each from Super League and Australia's NRL.

The series, expanded from the annual World Club Challenge in 2015 to include three teams from each competition, was scaled back after consecutive 3-0 whitewashes of the Super League clubs but revitalised in February by victories for Wigan and Warrington over Cronulla and Brisbane respectively.

That gave rise to the prospect of Australia hosting a bigger event in 2018 but Draper, who is also the Rugby Football League's chief commercial officer, believes the status quo will be maintained in the short term.

"We've got the weekend set aside in the calendar and we've been discussing with Australia a number of options such as whether we hold it in the UK or Australia or a mixture of both - and there was an offer from Singapore which has now gone off the table - and the number of teams," Draper told Press Association Sport.

"At the moment we're heading towards a four-team series in the UK like this year, although we've still not closed the door on four teams from each country.

"I think the preference both from ourselves and the NRL was either two or four teams and that is something we can hopefully build towards in the future."

That is likely to mean disappointment once more for the Challenge Cup winners, with the two Super League spots going to the champions and the winners of the League Leaders' Shield.

Draper says he hopes to confirm the details in the next few weeks and believes the recent interest from Singapore keeps alive the possibility of a neutral venue in the future.

"The globalisation of sport is happening at a fast pace," he said. "We do get offers from interesting places, whether that's in America, the Middle East or Singapore or Dubai because they're looking at ways of promoting tourism.

"Obviously it was an interesting one because it's easier for the Aussies to go to Singapore than it is to come over here and the travel time has always been one of the factors.

"We'll keep looking at those options as we go forward."

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