IN the past few months, I have been working hard to get all eyes on the Tees Valley, shouting about the brilliant things our region has to offer.

Now we have an opportunity like never before to get our area into the hearts, minds, and front rooms of millions of people across the world.

Last week, in front of dozens of our business leaders, we launched our bid to host fixtures for the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.

Members of our World Cup team are actively looking for venues in our region, so this presents a massive opportunity for Mowden Park in Darlington and the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.

Our area has a huge hunger for sport. It has world-class facilities and it has a new-found confidence to stake our claim as hosts. These are the kinds of things we should be bidding for.

The last time our area bid to host a truly international tournament of this type was the World Cup 1966, when, topically, North Korea played three matches at Ayresome Park against the USSR, Chile, and, most famously, Italy whom they beat 1-0 to successfully progress to the next stage. Our area was successful in 1966 and we can be successful today, too.

A victory would bring with it up to £8m for our local economy, translating into a positive impact on our businesses.

Sometimes it is about money, but it is also absolutely about what we can add to our local communities. By engaging with people on a grassroots level we can get people involved in the sport, inspire volunteers and get our region on its feet.

If we get this right – and I have no doubt we will - these games will also boost our chances of hosting future international tournaments, putting Tees Valley on the map.

We have all of the elements needed to triumph. We have our natural determination, top-class local facilities, and public support.

It wasn’t for nothing that Steve Hansen, head coach of the New Zealand All Blacks, named Mowden Park as being one of the best clubs they have had the privilege of working with, pointing out their outstanding support and facilities.

We’ve had the most famous rugby union team, and now we are aiming to host the rugby league defending champions Australia – a bold but achievable goal that has been backed by people and businesses across the area.

Working with Mowden Park, Middlesbrough Football Club and others, we are working to make this ambitious bid a reality, showing the depth of confidence in our bid.

Rugby has always been my game and, with the help of businesses, community groups and the public at large, it could be Tees Valley’s game too.

We have less than 100 days to prove why we are deserve this opportunity, so I’m asking everyone to talk up this bid.

If we don’t, who will?