Former St Helens coach Mick Potter is set to take charge of an ambitious New York club that will play a series of exhibition matches next year ahead of joining League One in 2022.
The club unveiled its plans at a press conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, which include playing three matches against as-yet unnamed NRL clubs in New York in February next year.
They will also enter the 2021 Challenge Cup from round one, and stage the draw for the sixth round of this year’s competition in the American city on Monday.
Chief executive Ricky Wilby says the club is “95 percent” sure of its inclusion in the league from 2022, and that investors are providing guarantees for five years of backing a full-time operation.
Wilby also wants to confirm the first NRL club to visit New York as early as next week, with the matches expected to take place at the 25,000 capacity Red Bull Arena.
Challenge Cup matches against what will initially be amateur opponents will be staged at a university in the city, and Wilby doesn’t anticipate issues attracting players to a 2021 campaign that is effectively made up of friendlies.
He said: “Players have been knocking the door down and the calibre of player coming to us is exciting.
“They have an opportunity to be part of something brand new, which appeals to certain players.
“The idea is that we play two games in January in the Challenge Cup – if we get through – then three NRL clubs in February.
“We’d also look to play a couple of international teams – we’re assuming there will be an international break for the World Cup and we’ve spoken to a couple of the home nations governing bodies about playing us.
“We might take games to places like California and play the USA team, and we could play some friendlies in Australia against reserve teams.”
Wilby would not be drawn on the identity of the club’s coach, only to say that he will be confirmed at the end of April and is currently based overseas.
But he worked closely with Potter during their time together at Catalans Dragons, and the experienced Australian has also coached in this country at Bradford Bulls.
Wilby – who hopes to draw on NFL support in the city – added: “We’ve got somebody pretty much nailed on but we can’t announce him yet.
“We’ll sign players from France, the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, they’ll be full-time from next year and the idea is that we put a mimimim of two games a month on next year.
“We were disappointed that we weren’t included in 2021 but I think we can put together a fixture list next year that will excite players who want to take a leap of faith.”
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