Sam Burgess in surprise twist as NRL teams locked in for Las Vegas showpiece in 2025

A Super League fixture will kick off the NRL's second expedition into Las Vegas in 2025.

Rugby league powerbrokers have called on a familiar face for the league's second foray into the United States, with Sam Burgess bringing his UK side Warrington Wolves to Allegiant Stadium in 2025 as part of the NRL's Las Vegas experiment. The NRL pulled off an ambitious double-header to kick off the 2024 season but will step things up for its second expedition into the US, with a nine-hour footy extravaganza.

Four fresh NRL sides will be given their chance to attract a new fanbase, with the Raiders taking on the Warriors and Panthers facing the Sharks. They will be joined by 2024 UK Challenge Cup finalists Wigan and Warrington, who will kickstart the bumper day of footy, while a women's international fixture will also be part of the program.

Warrington coach Burgess had been a vocal advocate of the Super League getting a match in Las Vegas, telling Love Rugby League in May that he had been in contact with Peter V'landys about getting the opportunity to be part of NRL's second Vegas adventure. "Any chance to expand our brand as a club and showcase what we think we’ve got on the world stage, then we’d be all over it, we’d love it," he said. "I’m good friends with (NRL chief) Peter V'landys, and I reached out to him about two or three months ago saying we’d love to be a part of it.

Pictured left Nathan Cleary and right Sam Burgess
Rugby league powerbrokers have called on a familiar face in Sam Burgess for their second foray into the United States. Image: NRL.com/AAP

“I wrote to Peter just as friends, but I think it’s going to be a Wigan home game, I think they are in the driving seat of things. Burgess told NRL.com that he had promised himself after one visit to the entertainment capital of the world that he would never go back but the opportunity to join his Australian rugby league counterparts was apparently too good of an opportunity to pass up.

The Vegas program has also been boosted by the addition of a women's international match between Australia’s Jillaroos against the English women’s team, bumping the schedule up to four matches. All four games are slated to take place on Saturday, March 1, with the matches all taking place at friendly times for Australian viewers. Wigan and Warrington will kick things off at 8.30am AEDT and the Panthers and the Sharks will look to send the program out in style with the match to get underway at 3.30pm AEDT.

Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess applauds the fans after the Betfred Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday June 8, 2024. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sam Burgess' Warrington Wolves will face 2024 UK Challenge Cup finalists Wigan in the first match of rugby league's 2025 Las Vegas expedition.

“Las Vegas 2025 will be a bigger, bolder and better festival of rugby league,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement. "The 2025 Las Vegas event will feature two highly anticipated NRL Premiership matches to open the season, the 2024 UK Challenge Cup finalists, Wigan and Warrington, and a Test match showcasing some of the most elite women’s players from both hemispheres.

“We’ve given fans the opportunity to plan early and take advantage of the Las Vegas festival experience – a true bucket list item for all rugby league and sports fans. Thank you to all the participating teams who will now get the chance to perform on a global stage with huge exposure. Thank you to all our partners, including the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Allegiant Stadium and our broadcast partners, who have worked closely with us to create this innovative and truly unique event."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 28: Tamika Upton of Australia (2L) celebrates a try that was later disallowed during the women's Pacific Championship match between Australia Jillaroos and New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at AAMI Park on October 28, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
The NRL's Vegas trip in 2025 will also feature a women's international match between Australia’s Jillaroos against the English women’s team.

This season’s inaugural push into the US had several teething issues, with American presenters and fans on numerous occasions failing to refer to the sport correctly as they struggled to grasp the difference between rugby union and rugby league. Despite this, it was still an overwhelming success and is something sure to not be a problem in a couple of years.

The NRL announced a crowd of 40,706 at Allegiant Stadium this year and there is a strong belief that the addition of two teams from England and an international women's match will see a large spike in numbers and further grow the game overseas. The women's game is seen as the biggest area of growth for rugby league in the US, with no fully professional sports in the NFL or rugby in North America. Officials also believe it can open opportunities for female US talent to join the NRLW.

"I don't think they would have seen female sport played at the level of speed, stamina, skill and intensity of rugby league football played by our female players," Abdo said. "The opportunity (exists) to win new fans, and also the opportunity brings an enticing fixture for existing fans. It's just too good to pass on and we're excited by this fixture."

RELATED:

  • Super League – Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves (8:30am AEDT)

  • NRL – Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors (11am AEDT)

  • Women's Test Match – Australian Jillaroos vs England Women's Team (1pm AEDT)

  • NRL – Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks (3:30pm AEDT)

with AAP