Cameron Smith has backed the NRL’s decision to take the 2017 Rugby League World Cup around the country.
Next year’s tournament will be played in eight cities across Australia as well as New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Melbournians will get the chance to see the World Cup opener when Australia and England kick off at AAMI Park on October 27.
Smith has played all over the world during his 44 games in the green and gold but the Storm and Kangaroos skipper is looking forward to getting the chance to lead the national team on home soil.
“It is great to have the World Cup back in Australia and New Zealand. It is nice we are going out to different parts of the country to spread the word of rugby league,” Smith said.
“A lot of these regions don’t get to see a lot of rugby league, particularly the elite game.
“The one thing the NRL has done in recent years is do their very best to try and grow our game across the nation. What a way to do that than with the World Cup.
“That is what a World Cup is about, not only to celebrate our game globally but let’s share the game as much as we can among our major cities.”
Smith will lead Australia as it looks to defend its world champion crown, which they won back off the New Zealand in 2013.
The addition of Wayne Bennett as coach of England has added an interesting twist to the tournament, especially the opening game at AAMI Park.
“It is nice to open the tournament in Melbourne against England, that will be a very tough game.
“It will be a great spectacle to open the World Cup, Australia versus England. I am sure Wayne will have those guys well prepared.”