ST HELENS has been chosen as one of the 21 venues to stage matches at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Three group games from the tournament will be staged at Saints' 18,000 capacity stadium - and discussions have also taken place with tournament organisers about the possibility of the borough also hosting a team throughout the duration of the World Cup, using Ruskin Drive Sports Village and Saints’ training base at Cowley Language College.

A decision has not been made on this yet.

The tournament is expected to boost the St Helens economy by around £3.6m, and benefit the grassroots game through legacy projects.

Welcoming the news, St Helens Council Leader Derek Long said: “Rugby League is in the DNA of St Helens which is why I made successfully bidding to be a host venue a priority in my very first week in office as leader.

“Hosting Australia against Fiji in 2013 showed the world how welcoming St Helens is as a host for a major sporting event and now that we’ve secured three matches – two more than last time - we hope to see even more people visit the borough in 2021.

“The economic impact and community benefits that can be obtained are equally as important as the hosting of matches and this great news will now allow us to get on with maximising the overall benefit.

“England will be in this tournament to win it and I think the entire borough will be with me in backing that effort.”

Eamonn McManus, chairman of both St Helens R.F.C. and the St Helens Economy Board, added: “This is a huge statement of the ambition and status of both the borough of St Helens and of its world famous rugby league club, which benefit in equal measure. The Saints are the principal ambassador for our town and hosting three games for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup is a testament both to the club and to the Invest in St Helens programme, of which we are a major supporter.”

RLWC2021 Chief Executive, Jon Dutton, said: “St Helens is a rugby league stronghold and we’re incredibly excited to be bringing the pinnacle of the men’s game to the town through the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

“With fantastic facilities and a community that has rugby league at its heart, we have awarded St Helens three men’s group games and look forward to developing a plan around the community adopting a team and bringing this to life through as vibrant local legacy programme”.