Kiwis are loving rugby league: Lowe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis are loving rugby league: Lowe

By Wayne Heming 25/03/2009 07:26:48 PM Comments (0)

Former Kiwi coach Graham Lowe says the feats of the Warriors in the NRL and the New Zealand rugby national league team have won over thousands of fans bored with rugby union and the continued failure of the All Blacks to win the World Cup.

Lowe - a former Warriors chairman and successful coach in New Zealand, Australia and the UK - believes Saturday's NRL clash between the Warriors and Brisbane at Mt Smart Stadium will continue the upsurge of interest in the game.

Lowe warned rugby union officials to quickly get their head out of the sand, claiming Kiwi fans were coming out of the closet to watch rugby league.

"In all my time I have never seen rugby league healthier or as many people captivated by it," Lowe told AAP.

"The (league) World Cup win was a great result for the game here especially considering the high expectations on the All Blacks in the past few rugby World Cups which haven't been met.

"Even the most ardent rugby union supporter would find it hard to argue as a spectacle rugby hasn't offered up much in the Super 14 this year.

"The real groundswell here is not necessarily coming from rugby league people, it's coming from the rugby union public who are asking why their game can't be the exciting, unpredictable spectacle they're are seeing in the NRL every week.

"They can see the X-factor players like Stacey Jones and Wade McKinnon, Darren Lockyer, Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau offer.

"All these players bring something that is totally exciting and unpredictable and the rugby union people over here are starting to actually enjoy it.

"They (rugby) can't match it. That's not being disrespectful to them.

"They've had their head in the sand and it's come out with rugby league gripping the fans.

"It's quite remarkable because this is a traditional world rugby union strong hold."

The Warriors this week firmed dramatically in betting to win the premiership which would take rugby league to new heights in New Zealand.

"I dare not think that far ahead," said Lowe, who's been heavily involved with the game for 40 years.

"Rugby league has everyone in its grip over here at the moment.

"There's a lot factors .... New Zealand's World Cup win over Australia last year, how ordinary rugby is performing, the way the Warriors are playing, Stacey's great comeback and Steve Price playing his 300th game last weekend - the people here just love him.

"Then you've got the unfortunate tragedy of a young man like Sonny Fai which created an enormous amount of emotion it was incredible really."

Lowe believes Jones, who retired after being named in New Zealand's team of the century in 2007, has also captured the public's imagination with his stunning comeback.

"A lot of people here have compared Stacey's comeback to what Alfie (Allan Langer) did for Queensland in the Origin back in 2001," he said.

"Alfie was actually playing for Warrington in the UK when he did that. Stacey's been bloody catching and filleting fish, he hasn't played for 18 months or whatever it is."

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