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Russell Crowe calls for new-look Rugby League World Series as he prepares to head to St Helens

Actor Russell Crowe Photo: Kento Nara/Geisler-Fotopress/DPA/Press Association Images

Hollywood actor Russell Crowe is urging rugby league officials to be bold and raise the profile of the new World Club Series.

The annual challenge match between the champions of Super League and the NRL has been expanded this year into a six-team competition that got under way in Warrington.

But Crowe, the co-owner of NRL premiers South Sydney, has highlighted the flaws of the series, claiming there will be "no blood on the line" in two of the games, and put forward his own ideas to grow the concept.

"Some of this world series situation I disagree with because we are into a mode of two out of three games being friendlies," said Crowe at a private viewing in central London of his directorial debut The Water Diviner.

"Since when does that f***ing work in rugby league vernacular? If there is no blood on the line it is not rugby league.

"So we have the World Club Challenge, that is dead serious. And the other teams are going to take their matches seriously as well. But they are not playing for anything."

Brisbane Broncos, who finished eighth in the NRL in 2014, and St George Illawarra, who came 11th, were invited to take part and will play Wigan and Warrington respectively.

Crowe, who will be at St Helens on Sunday to watch his team take on the Super League champions in the main match, has in the past proposed Las Vegas as a venue for a World Club Series and would like to see an expanded version moved from its current early-season slot.

"It requires changing the schedules but, if we were to play a different competition at the end of the Super League and NRL seasons and take the top four from both so you had an eight-team competition that takes place on a neutral ground, everybody is playing for something," Crowe said.

"It means the team that came fourth in the NRL are square one with everyone else and their fans believe they can win it. That is a very important thing.

"The game is so intense. It can't be played with a pat on the back. There has to be blood on the line. It has to be dead serious. That is what rugby league is.

"I only suggested Las Vegas because it is an international hub. You can fly there from anywhere and it is halfway between the two countries.

"You guys do get a bit of a leg up with this World Club Challenge because of the weather here and because your season has already begun."

Crowe, who helped transform the fortunes of South Sydney after they were thrown out of the Australian competition in the 1990s, believes an insular attitude has prevented rugby league from becoming a truly international sport.

"It is to do with us," he said. "We are very tribal, both here and Australia. It is a process that is still going on.

"There is a big future for the game. It is the most exciting ball-in-hand football game that exists.

"It is a very easy game to describe to Americans because there are clearly defined periods of offence and defence, far easier than rugby union.

"As time goes on, we have to begin to shape our game so it generates more revenue, so the athletes we have who enjoy playing our game stay playing our game.

"There is a great future in front of rugby league but it requires us to treat it more than the local pastime. It is a professional sport."