NRL stars takes centre stage at NFL game in Las Vegas

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
12/12/2023
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Las Vegas NFL game hosts NRL stars

The NRL took centre stage at an NFL game in Las Vegas on Monday morning to promote the league’s upcoming overseas double header.

News Insights

  • NRL stars headed to Las Vegas on Monday to promote the league.
  • Spencer Leniu, Billy Walters, Aaron Woods, and Campbell Graham featured during the NFL broadcast.
  • The NRL will play two matches in Las Vegas next season.
  • Broncos vs. Roosters and Manly vs. Rabbitohs will play in a double header on March 3.

The 2024 NRL season does not kick off until March, but the league has already rolled out some players to help hype up the season in the United States. A quarter of NRL players were in Las Vegas on Monday morning at the Raiders vs. Vikings game to promote the league’s upcoming double header in the US to NFL fans. 

“We’re just going to try to get out here and bash each other” 

Rooster prop Spencer Leniu, Broncos hooker Billy Walters, Manly forward Aaron Woods, and Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham took centre stage during the NFL’s broadcast of the Raiders vs. Vikings game in Las Vegas on Monday morning. The NRL representatives were there to promote the league to American audiences ahead of the NRL’s season opener in the US next season.  
 
The 2024 NRL season will kick off with a double header at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on March 3, 2024. Broncos vs. Roosters will be the first match, followed by Manly vs. Rabbitohs. The goal of these games is to grow the league in the US. Will it work? The NRL players in Las Vegas think so. 
 
“I think Americans love the collisions in sport, and Vegas is the entertainment capital,” said Wood on the Fox Sports broadcast. “There are no helmets, there are no pads and we’re just in there making collisions and getting the fans pumped up like they are today,” he told the millions of NFL fans who tuned into the Raiders vs. Vikings game.  
 
We’re just going to try to get out there and bash each other. We want to come out here and entertain, and I think we have the product to do that,” said Graham. “I’m really looking forward to coming back in March and putting on a show.

American announcers struggle with rugby terms

While many NRL fans were excited to see players promoting the league abroad, other fans could not help but notice how poor the American broadcast team’s knowledge of the NRL was.  
 
Things got off to a poor start when the pre-game show host Kevin Kugler and former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez referred to an American football as a “football” and a Steeden as a “rugby.”  
 
Sanchez then said to part in a “pre-game rugby scrum” before throwing to footage of himself Billy Walters and Spencer Leniu simply tossing around a rugby ball. As many NRL fans pointed out, this was very much not a scrum.  
 
Sanchez and Kugler were not the only American announcers to make an NRL faux pas. Fox sideline reporter Laura Okmin asked about Manly’s Aaron Woods and Rabbitoh’s Campbell Graham’s plans to make Americans fall in love with “rugby.” The distinction between Rugby League and Rugby Union is unknown to most Americans, but hearing just “rugby” bantered about by the Yanks still made Australian audiences cringe.  
 
Let’s hope the Americans brush up more on the NRL before March’s NRL matches in Las Vegas. Let’s also hope the NRL’s US double header is more exciting than the Raiders vs. Vikings game on Monday morning. 

NRL stars witness rare NFL feat on Monday 

Spencer Leniu, Billy Walters, Aaron Woods, and Campbell Graham seemed excited to be in Las Vegas promoting the NRL and getting the opportunity to watch American football live in person, but we have to wonder if their excitement trailed off as the match went on.  
 
According to all good NFL metrics, Raiders vs. Vikings on Monday night was one of the dullest NFL matches in history. The match was 1 minute and 57 seconds away from finishing as the first 0-0 draw in the NFL since 1943. Thankfully, a team did score. The Minnesota Vikings knocked in a 36-yard field goal with 1:57 left in the match, securing them a 3-0 victory.  
 
This was the first 3-0 NFL game in almost two decades. It was only the third in the last 40 years. Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, but this was a historically dull match. 

If the NRL’s double header should be more exciting. Roosters and Broncos are tipped by the betting sites to be some of the best teams in the league, so that should be a good match. Rabbitohs are also among the favourites. Their match against Manly should hopefully also be an entertaining affair.