THE WORLD'S best rugby league players will compete for the sport's biggest prize when the World Cup returns to England in 2021.

What promises to be the biggest Rugby League World Cup ever is just three years away and Trafford is ready to challenge Wembley for the prestige of hosting the final.

Councils across Greater Manchester are bidding to host the Rugby League World Cup, with Trafford, Wigan, Bolton and Manchester eager to stage some of the biggest matches.

Old Trafford is one of 16 venues to be shortlisted, and a favourite to make the final selection, along with the City of Manchester Stadium and Wigan's DW Stadium.

Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “This is a really fantastic opportunity for Trafford and for Greater Manchester. The chance to welcome the best rugby league players on the planet to the local area is incredibly exciting.

“For Trafford it would allow us not only to build on our reputation as a home of truly elite sport, but to welcome visitors to the borough, showcasing all that we have to offer and providing a huge boost to local businesses and the wider Trafford economy.

"We have a fantastic facility at Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford where we are used to holding major games, typically the Rugby League Grand Final.

“So in hosting games we would be hoping to attract a big ticket game, a semi-final or a final."

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Trafford could host the final of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup 

The rugby spectacular, to be held in October and November 2021, will be watched worldwide by an estimated 150million people across 115 countries. More than 1 million people are expected to attend the games over the five weeks the tournament runs.

It will bring 40 squads of elite players to the UK, as well as thousands of overseas supporters, making it the most diverse and high-profile rugby league tournament ever held.

Trafford Council are eager to bring the sporting spectacle to the borough as part of their continuing commitment to a healthier Trafford.

Cllr Western added: “We are also working together with Greater Manchester to ensure there are serious benefits wherever in the region that we hold games in terms of getting young people involved in rugby league and in terms of the economic benefits it means for Trafford and for Greater Manchester.

"We hope to tackle things like childhood obesity through this initiative and sports where there is only a low take up as we only have one club South Trafford Raiders at the moment.

"But for me it’s about taking as many opportunities as possible to get kids active.

"We're already taking action to restrict opening hours for takeaways within 400 metres of schools and as part of our 15 year strategy, getting children as active as possible as young as possible and doing whatever it is that they enjoy by attracting events like the Rugby League World Cup.

“It’s also worth noting that with the Cricket World Cup at Lancashire Cricket Club next year it’s a strong signal for us as being a world leading sporting borough.”

Bids to host the games have to be submitted to the Rugby Football League by the end of July.

While the bids will be considered individually, Greater Manchester’s councils are collaborating to highlight all that the region has to offer and showcase how it can work together for the benefit of the city region.

A social media campaign to encourage people to back the bid has been launched with people urged to show their support using the hashtag #rlwc2021GM #BacktheBidsGM