Newly installed Penrith CEO Corey Payne has launched a scathing critique of the scheduling for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup for ignoring western Sydney.
Payne took aim at the NRL and RLWC organisers after Sydney was given just two fixtures in the draw for the tournament announced in Brisbane on Tuesday.
World No.20 Lebanon will play Wayne Bennett’s England on November 4 and co-hosts Australia on November 11 at ANZ Stadium next year.
Christchurch, Wellington, Melbourne and Darwin will host quarter-finals before semi-finals move to Brisbane and Auckland.
Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will host the final.
That brought a stinging rebuke from Payne, who penned a letter “apologising to all Rugby League fans living in Western Sydney”.
“I am extremely disappointed that we have been snubbed by the NRL for ‘commercial reasons’,” Payne wrote.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that the only two RLWC games scheduled for Sydney will not be played in our backyard.
“It is a mind-boggling decision which makes me question the NRL’s strategic agenda for Australia’s fastest growing economy and population.”
Payne said the Panthers had moved to make their home Pepper Stadium an attractive venue to host a RLWC fixture, including hosting post-match functions, organising junior league gala days and school visits at their own expense and offering the venue at cost price.
“It is a real shame that the NRL cannot see the opportunity out here in the west,” Payne continued.
“If they cannot make RLWC games commercially viable in Western Sydney then I must be living on the moon.
“All we wanted to do is bring Rugby League, business and the community together in Western Sydney to celebrate the World Cup.
“Western Sydney deserves better.
Rugby League World Cup CEO Michael Brown said the lack of fixtures in Sydney had come down to the NSW state government’s unwillingness to pay for the events.