Representative rugby league star Luke Lewis believes his code is so perfect for television consumption it may be contributing to its downfall in the escalating battle for live crowd support from Sydney’s spoilt sport fans.
A massive crowd of 83,598 packed into Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night to watch English Premier League champions Chelsea beat Sydney FC 1-0.
That was just three days after more than 71,500 attended the same venue to watch Sydney lose by the same scoreline to another EPL side, Tottenham Hotspur.
The Sydney Swans had over 32,000 fans attend their AFL indigenous round clash with Carlton at the SCG last Friday.
Although rugby league’s first State of Origin drew 80,122 punters to ANZ Stadium last Wednesday, club games are struggling to pull big crowds.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold warned the sleeping giant of football had awoken and pointed out the attractive live TV Monday night showdown between NRL competition heavyweights Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm drew just 8,265 through the gate at Allianz Stadium.
Lewis acknowledged the NRL had a fight on their hands from both soccer and AFL.
“I think soccer and AFL are doing a great job in trying to take over the sporting environment in NSW,” Lewis said on Wednesday.
“I think the crowds that soccer are pulling and the way that the crowds pull that atmosphere, it’s pretty scary.
“But the worst thing for us I think is that our game is such a good game to watch on TV, you can see everything twice, you don’t miss too much.
“When you’re at the game, you are looking or you are watching on the big screen to see what happened (in replays).
“I think that’s probably our biggest downfall is that our game is such a good game to watch on TV.”
Overlooked by NSW coach Laurie Daley for the State of Origin series opener, Lewis isn’t optimistic of a call-up for game two, even though he said he would grab any opportunity.
“I can’t see the team changing too much, they only lost by one point,” Lewis said.
“I love playing for NSW, I always have. I love playing in the rep arena, but I won’t hold my breath on anything.”