By STEVE MASCORD
ROB Peter to pay Paul. Give with the left hand and take with the right. Better the devil you know.
Rugby league has always loved clichés and as the Australian authorities belatedly look at rationalising their fixture list and recognising the importance of international football, Bondi Beat is put in mind of these three in particular.
The NRL believes it can attract more than A$2 billion for its next television deal, if it offers networks the same thing it currently peddles.
One problem though: it wants to change what it is flogging. Six weeks of the club season are wrecked by State of Origin, with clubs not having access to their own players and the great flowing rapids of NRL interest slowing to a trickling stream which is not easily replenished when it’s all over. Attendances are a worry.
Players are so concerned about burnout they told Great Britain to stay home in 2015, as any reader of this column would be all too aware.
On the other hand, the Auckland Nines make a fortune and the Rugby League International Federation wants to set up its own equivalent to make money between World Cups.
The World Club Challenge has become the World Club Series. The Four Nations were an unexpected success, with the highest aggregate attendance despite there being no games in Sydney or Auckland.
Samoa have emerged to such an extent that the “Pacific Test” on the representative weekend next year is likely to be a double-header.
State of Origin continues to be a universe unto itself, smashing television, sponsorship and attendance records. In 2015, it returns to Melbourne.
But the club season, and the endless churn of programming over 30 weeks, pays the bills. Rugby league is art; broadcasting is commerce. And if the season is going to be shortened to make space for new offshoots of our game to grow, then it won’t be worth A$4 billion anymore.
So the NRL needs to make what games are on offer more lucrative. They have a very specific formula for how much the rights are worth – and these figures are based on audience size and the asking price of advertising.
Some of the ideas for making the existing NRL matches more valuable, so we can make as much money from fewer of them, have been around for a while.
One has been to insert a 30 second pause before line dropouts are taken, giving us another advert. Another is to revert to the mid-week cup format of four-quarter football (Ian Heads’ excellent new book The Night The Music Died outlines how the 1974 Western Division side made the most of the extra two breaks).
These ideas have been around for a while.
Colleague Phil Rothfield of the Daily Telegraph recently uncovered a couple of other kites flow inside the Competitions Committee room. One was making each quarter go for 25 minutes, lengthening the entire TV programme as well as the opportunity to insert commercials.
Another would be the use of eight interchange players.
Most rugby league fans want the Australians to take international football seriously, and to expand their competition.
But is fiddling with the rules a) at all or b) to the extent detailed above a price worth paying? Tell me on Twitter at @BondiBeat what your choice would be if it was between the NRL remaining isolated and a more progressive outlook, but with big rule changes.
American Football tailored itself for television and the NFL became the biggest club competition the world has ever seen. Personally, I think four quarters is a no-brainer. It gives us more revenue, it has been successfully trialled before and its impact on the fabric of the game is, while significant, still acceptable.
A 30 second break at every break in play eliminates one of the biggest advantages we have over our rivals – continuity. A 30 second break at line dropouts gives tiring defences too much time to regroup and meddles too much.
Extra interchanges make us too much like basketball and the NFL and further erodes the element of fatigue and therefore bravery. I’m against it.
But I’m willing to accept that maybe the NRL can take a constructive leadership role in the evolution of our rules. It’s quite possible they can’t, and their actions will be mainly destructive, but I still have an open mind.
Tell me what you think.
THE Rugby League International Federation search for a CEO is becoming a little farcical.
After being turned down by former IRB chief Mike Miller, it’s my understanding they’ve also failed in a bid for premiership-winning South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson.
Richardson may be looking for a new challenge after being the first club chief in Premiership history to win titles at two clubs but the RLIF could not get their act together in time to convince him it was a good idea to take up the post.
Bondi Beat is hearing mutterings of financial complications in the bid to set up a fulltime office. It’s all very sad – and the NRL has clearly decided to do its own thing in the Pacific by pairing development programmes with foreign aid from the Australian government.
The RLIF has lost its tax-exempt status and wants it back
AS usual, it’s been a poor off-season for the game when it comes to player misbehaviour.
South Sydney’s Kirisome Auva’a was banned for nine months after the court finally dealt with his domestic abuse allegations, Greg Bird was charged with urinating on a police car (which he denies) on the first day of his honeymoon, and John Hopoate’s son Jamil was jailed for a serious assault.
That’s just off the top of my head.
The NRL continues to be criticised for inconsistently dealing with the these offences – but they are all different. I’m not sure what the answer is.
TERRY Campese is one of my favourite players and I’ll be cheering him to make a big impression at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
You know what’s sad? That he missed last year’s World Cup for Italy, for whom he could have made a massive impression, to prepare for a season which finished in him being nudged towards the door in Canberra.
Last year I predicted Matt Bowen to be a sensation in Super League and it took a while for him to warm up – so I’ll be more circumspect in my predictions regarding Campo.
But he will be one of the most talented handful of players in the competition in 2015. The only question is whether injury allows him to show it.
Please check out my podcast, White Line Fever, by searching that title on itunes.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD
SOUTH Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson lost a house trying to expand rugby league.
That was back in 1999, when the former Cronulla boss risked it all to start a club in Newcastle, England, called the Gateshead Thunder. They lost Stg700,000 and only lasted one year.
But a decade and a half on, “Richo” hasn’t given up. With the Bunnies’ first premiership in 43 years beckoning, he’s committed Souths to the 2015 World Club Series.
Richardson’s friend, Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, has been pushing for a re-expansion of the World Club Challenge for years. The 1997 version was such a disaster that until now, Australian clubs have baulked.
But it’s Richardson who pushed the negotiations, involving the likes of St George Illawarra’s Peter Doust, Wigan’s Ian Lenagan and Warrington’s Simon Moran, to the point where next February 20 to 22, the World Club Challenge between the winners of the NRL and Super League will be preceded by two other games.
St Helens, as winners of the League Leaders Shield, will take on either Souths or Brisbane at a venue to be determined. The other NRL team will play the beaten Super League grand finalists. One game Friday night, one game Saturday.
The Rugby Football League’s chief executive, Blake Solly, has confirmed that two trophies will be awarded. The WCC trophy goes to the winner of the main match, the WCS shield for the country with the most wins from three matches.
There is a hope that – despite the fact existing TV deals include the WCC so there is no appreciable profit from that area – the concept could be taken on the road, to places like Dubai and Hong Kong, and become at least as big as the Auckland Nines.
But this is not a preview of next year’s World Club Challenge.
In an increasingly globalised world, rugby league cannot survive forever as a local powerhouse and an international oddity. It needs to get on the information superhighway and get up to speed quickly, or risk being swamped.
American and European sports are increasingly marketing themselves to Australians, playing games here and increasing their TV reach. The shrinking resources of newspapers make it easier for them to give these competitions more space.
Richo wants to fight back. Here’s his warplan.
STOP BEING EMBARASSED
FOR some reason rugby league fans are embarrassed about how small the sport is internationally and think trying to expand is pointless. AFL has no such self-doubt – they’ve played many exhibition games in the major capitals of the world. “It’s expectations which are lower than they should be that stop us growing the game,” says Richardson. “We have to change the way we think about the game … young people today don’t think that way. With the internet and social media … every time people are exposed to this game, they like it. We keep thinking within the boundaries of where we are now, not where we could be in five years. Sometimes we limit ourselves in our thinking as administrators but the players don’t have the same view.”
“My main thought is we have to think outside of the box,” he says. “You can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. I think we proved, at Souths, with Perth and Cairns that you can expand the brand. I know ‘brand’ is a terrible word…. The World Club Challenge is about the English clubs trying to build some momentum in Europe and compete with the (rugby union) Heiniken Cup, etc. We’ve been working for the last two years to try and support that. Our sponsors, Delonghi, Fujitsu, Alcitel and Crown have all got a presence in Europe so it’s showing the game has got a greater reach.”
OUR game is splintering; different rules at international, NRL and Super League level make it bewildering for anyone considering taking up the sport. Local bodies change the laws and interpretations without consulting anyone. “We’ve got to have central control, we can’t have different rules in different hemispheres,” says Richo. “We’re trying to make the game more attractive for television – I get that. But we also have to make the rules so that new people understand them. I’m not against changing the rules. I’m against changing them only in the NRL.”
A FIVE YEAR STRATEGY FOR THE WHOLE GAME: INTERNATIONAL, PROFESSIONAL AND GRASSROOTS
RUGBY league had a 100 year head start on rugby union, during which it paid players and union didn’t, but self-interest allowed the 15-man game to dominate globally. “This has been spoken about at CEOs conferences for a while – we’ve got to have a five year plan of where we want to take the game, not just the NRL. We lock in the World Club Challenge, we lock in Nines, whether it’s World Nines or the nines we’re doing now. But it’s whole-of-game.”
FEWER CLUB GAMES
RICHARDSON is one of the few NRL club supremos to publically declare the NRL season too long. “We may have to restrict the number of club games, NRL games, we play to expand beyond those boundaries. I’ve always said – I don’t see the need to play 24 fixtures. One of the challenges we’ve got with the scheduling is that it’s locked into the television deal so we need X number of games. That’s presupposing we can’t have other games to fill those slots. I’m not sure that, if we have an expanded view of the game, Tonga v Samoa wouldn’t be a better game for people to watch on a Saturday afternoon than Souths v Cronulla.’
CONSULT PLAYERS OVER ELIGIBILITY
BRAD Takairangi and Aiden Guerra are just two of the players set to be “poached” from the sides they represented in the World Cup for this year’s Four Nations. Should they be allowed to return to Cook Islands and Italy respectively? “The players want the game to go onto another stage and expand,” says Richardson. “The article with Jarryd Hayne, where he talks about players’ IP … players might be concerned about the number of games they play but they’ll always be involved in matches that expand their IP because they understand the importance of it. Are we listening to what they want? Does Jarryd Hayne, if he doesn’t play for NSW, not want to play for Fiji?”
GET RUGBY LEAGUE ON TV IN MORE PLACES
THE NFL flooded British television with cheap broadcasts before attempting exhibition games at Wembley. “Where do we want to be? If people in the Czech Republic want to watch rugby league, should we charge them when they can watch ice hockey, basketball, soccer … those sports are part of their culture? If we want to have an impact on that culture, then we have to give them some sort of bonus. Making them pay for it is not much of a bonus. You have to get to the point where the US wants to pay big money, not charge them straight off the bat.”
USE NRL PLAYERS TO PROMOTE RUGBY LEAGUE WORLDWIDE IN AN AGE OF NICHE INTERESTS
“THE NFL don’t promote their game in the UK with local players. They bring stars from the US. Why aren’t we doing the same with the Greg Inglises and the Sam Tomkins’ of the world? It promotes the game and sets them up on the world stage. People are sitting on their computers in Moldova and Minnesota taking an interest in all sorts of unusual things that their local media ignores. We need to be one of those things and from my experiences at Souths, I know we already are one of those things because people in those places contact me. Whenever administrators stuff up, a great game like the Roosters-Panthers final compensates for it. The game itself saves the people running it, over and over again.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK
WHEN we went to Parramatta with claims Chris Sandow had played in an aboriginal knockout and been sent off for a shoulder charge followed by an elbow, Eels CEO Scott Seward told us: “He had permission to play. He passed a medical and the coach gave him his blessing. Chrissy has told us he was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on a childhood friend. It was a bit of a joke between them.” But bootleg video on YouTube above appears to show a dismissal – with the elbow chiefly to blame. When Seward put this to Sandow, he insisted he wasn’t aware he had been sent off, only sin binned. We can’t find any record of a judiciary hearing. The title for the Murri Carnival at Redcliffe two weeks ago changed hands when it was discovered the winners, Murri Dingoes Blue, fielded a player who mistakenly believed his drugs suspension had expired. Parra’ refused permission for Joseph Paulo and Bereta Faraimo to play for the US in the Mitchelton Nines on Saturday.
PUNCHING ON 1
WE have often heard this year that “little guys wouldn’t be pushing big guys if they could still be punched”. It was just a theory until the Super League grand final, when little Lance Hohaia pushed big Ben Flower, then lunged at him with a raised forearm. As we know, Hohaia punched Flower twice, the second time when he was on his back, possibly unconscious. They both missed the rest of the game, leaving St Helens to limp to victory as they have all year. Had Flower – who left Old Trafford before fulltime – not opted out of Wales duty, he could at least have counted the upcoming European internationals against what will no doubt be a mammoth suspension. Condemnation of Flower has been widespread and almost unanimous. Soccer star Joe Barton Tweeted he had “little sympathy” for Hohaia because of the provocation, but later stressed he did not intend to defend the Welshman.
PUNCHING ON 2
LIKE Wigan’s Super League campaign, the proud 15-year-plus history of the United States Tomahawks may have come to an end with a punch at the weekend. The USARL is taking over running the game in the US and is likely to dispense with the old AMNRL trademark, meaning it was all on the line when the Americans trailed invitational side Iron Brothers 8-4 with three minutes left in a Nines quarter-final in Brisbane. The Tomahawks got the ball back but sometime-cage fighter Tui Samoa took umbrage to something a rival said and punched him. Water carrier Paulo – banned, as we said, by Parramatta from playing – helped separate them, Samoa was sent to the bin and Brothers scored again to eliminate the US 14-4.
GRACIOUSNESS AND GAFFES
AND what a mixed bag we had for rugby league public speaking at the weekend. On the plus side, congrats to departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, the club’s player of the year Ben Hunt and CEO Paul White for their oratory at the club presentation. “Ben Hunt was entitled to test his value on the open market but he didn’t,” White told around 500 guests. “Although at a backyard barbecue I was at, he did get his message across to me by changing the words of the Status Quo song to ‘down, down, prices are down”. Griffin said: “Whatever I do now, I’ll be a competitor. But I’ll never be a critic of this club or the people in it.” On the negative, St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, at fulltime on live TV: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I could fucking swear”. Yes, he said those words – in that order.
SOUTHS chief executive Shane Richardson has savaged the running of the international game in Britain’s The Observer. “I look at the state of international rugby league and it just makes me angry,” Richardson – citing the departure of Sam Burgess as a symptom of the problem – said. “I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more.” Nevertheless, Greece played their first home international at the weekend, beating the Czechs 68-16 in Athens, the Philippines defeated Vanuatu 32-16 on remote Santo and Norway were preparing to meet Thailand in Bangkok. Next weekend, Latin America faces Portugal and Fiji takes on Lebanon, both in Sydney while Tonga take on PNG in Lae and the European Championships commence.
RETIRING ON A HIGH
REPORTS of veteran rugby league photographer Col Whelan’s retirement were greatly exaggerated last year. The NRL weren’t quite ready to take over Col’s operation and he went around in 2014 for one last season – wearing a South Sydney cap to every game. NRL rules prohibit media from wearing club merchandise but the media areas are full of uniformed club staff posting on social media, an inconsistency the irascible snapper sought to highlight. At fulltime on grand final day in the bunnies rooms, players became concerned Col had stopped shooting. He was crying with happiness. At the Red and Green ball, Whelan presented every player with a disc containing 120 photos of their life-defining triumph. What a way to go out – enjoy your retirement, Col.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
By STEVE MASCORD
LIKE your clubs in England, the NRL is considering ways to hold onto players and to recruit new stars,
Bondi Beat‘s spies tell us that the issue was raised in Auckland before the NRL Nines. The CEO of the league, David Smith, suggested that if one club wanted to sign a rugby union star, for instance, it could apply for central funding.
But every club would have the opportunity to match or exceed the amount of money the recruiting club was willing to pay. If Souths wanted to sign England rahrah George North, for instance, North Queensland could offer to pay a larger part of his wage package. This would leave the league paying less.
North would still have the opportunity to go to the club of his choice, not the highest bidder.
But another idea should be a concern to most readers. The plan is to make transfer fees salary cap-free if the incoming player is not from the NRL.
In other words, a leave pass to raid the Super League if you have enough money to pay the transfer fees.
I am told it was South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson who pointed this implication out. “They play the same sport as us over there, you know,” was the crux of his argument.
If you go through the current NRL club CEOS, few have much experience in the international game.
THE debate over the marquee player proposal in England is a fascinating one.
I heard on the BBC recently that the NRL has a marquee player allowance of $600,000 per club. That is wrong. There is no marquee player system in the NRL that is even remotely similar to what Dr Marwan Koukash is proposing in Super League.
What is allowed in the NRL are third part agreements – club sponsors paying players up to a limit. It is not the same as allowing clubs to spend their own money on imported talent, regardless of whether it sends them broke.
Instead of offering Stg200,000 for rival clubs’ “golden tickets”, perhaps Dr Koukash should guarantee to under-write the rest of the comp so every club can spend up to the cap as it exists now.
I am a bit of a sociallist when it comes to sporting competitions. I believe our game needs to be outwardly capitalist but inwardly communist.
Until every club in the Super League is spending up to the cap, there is no point giving them more rope to hang themselves. Maybe if every club in the new division of eight is spending up to the cap and is on a sound financialfooting, it can be considered again.
The recent Widnes-Salford epic was a clash of cultures – between licencing and throwing raw cash at something. And who won that?
THIS column probably features a few too many items which paint my Australian compatriots as being a little ignorant of the realities of rugby league outside their own bubble. It’s a point that gets laboured here too much.
But it was curious the other day to hear Penrith coach Ivan Cleary say this: “I think, personally, we shouldn’t have representative tournaments every year at the end of the year,” Cleary said. ”Maybe a one-off game with Australia and New Zealand straight after the grand final pretty much. Basically, if you are going to have one it needs to finish a lot earlier.”
Cleary, you’ll remember, is the New Zealand assistant coach!
Now, George Gregan played 139 Tests in that other code. Darren Lockyer had played 59 when he retired. But WE’RE playing too many Tests? Clearly, were playing too many club games…
One man who agreed with Cleary was Greg Alexander, who is on the board at Penrith. When I appeared with Andrew Voss and Brandy on 2UE to argue against Cleary’s contention, one of their responses was that if we needed international football so much then perhaps there should be a World Cup every two years!
From the sublime to the ridiculous…..
IN the wake of the sort of ignorance described above, you’ve got to hand it to the Sydney Roosters and former Catalan coach Trent Robinson.
He has hired the England coach as his assistant and in Remy Casty has a man who is likely to be only the fourth French born player to turn out in the top flight down under, after Jerome Guisset, Jacques Molinet and Jason Baitieri.
And when his team completely outclassed Wigan in the World Club Challenge, Robinson argued that the concept should be expanded. Even in the face of the increasing disparity in the salary caps of the two competitions, he argued an expanded WCC would narrow the gap, not accentuate it.
ANOTHER great story in this neck of the woods this year has been the debut in Queensland’s Untrust Super Cup (the Q Cup to you) of the Kopoko-based PNG Hunters.
After the disappointments of the World Cup, the PNGRL signed players from rural areas to contracts, took them away from their families for 11 weeks and put them in a police barracks.
The result was a 24-18 win on debut against Redcliffe in Brisbane. “Back at home, after the World Cup when everyone got back into the country, the guys that played in
the World Cup never went out in public places because a lot of the media and the people around the country were pissed off,” said coach Michael Marum.
PNGRL chairman Sandis Tsaka says Mal Meninga is now the coach of the Kumuls. They hope to play the winner of the mid-year Samoa-Fiji Test before the Four Nations and a warm-up game against another 4N team – perhaps England.
TYRONE McCarthy and his partner, Helen Lomax, are settling in nicely in Cairns.
The Ireland vice-captain and ex-Warrington star scored two tries on debut for Q Cup side Northern Pride. “I was probably getting stagnant at Warrington, being in and out of the side,” he said.
“It’s pretty different to home here, very hot and humid, but I’m used to it now and the club have been great. Two tries is more than I scored all last year.”
Tyrone is hoping to get his charity project, the FullBloods, going in Oz. It helps kids in disadvantaged areas using rugby league to connect with them. Support Tyrone by visiting thefullbloodproject.org.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK
1. ‘FIXTURE’ IN NAME ONLY?
THE NRL is adamant it won’t be forced to back down over another potential fixture clash with the AFL a week after revising their draw because ANZ Stadium was double-booked. On September 6, South Sydney are due to host Sydney Roosters at Homebush in a game that could decide the minor premiership. But there is also some chance that Sydney Swans will have a home final assigned to the same weekend. “Our game is locked in to the Friday night and it won’t be moved,” and NRL spokesman said late Sunday. South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson added: “When Allianz Stadium offered to host the game, ANZ said they definitely wanted it.” The Swans will just have to play on Saturday – at least that’s what the Mungos are saying. Set of Six was told P1 parking tickets were hard to come by, leading to suggestions the venue remained undecided on who it would favour if the clash occurred.
2. A PUNCH AND DUTY
WHILE this is one of the few rugby league columns you’ll read that’s in favour of the punching ban, predictions that it would be interpreted by some players as a licence to niggle were just about proven right at Suncorp Stadium. “I held him down in the tackle, fair enough,” St George Illawarra halfback Nathan Fien told referee Jason Robinson, in reference to Brisbane’s Corey Parker, “but that doesn’t give him the right to strike out at me. You referees have made a big deal about that.” In other words, the rules now make it acceptable to drop knees and elbows into attacking players and if they retaliate, it’s they who should be punished. If Fien’s interpretation was in vogue, the punching ban would be unworkable. There should never be an incentive to niggle. If Parker had thrown a punch, he should have been sent to the sin bin but the penalty should still have gone to the Broncos.
3. MISERABLE DECISIONS
EVEN the referees and touch judges didn’t think Joel Thompson knocked on when he tried to catch a line drop-out with Canberra coming to get the Sydney Roosters and a couple of minutes left at Allianz Stadium on Saturday. But when the Raiders second rower froze, they thought they must be mistaken, packed a scrum, and the tricolours hung on. The match officials’ boss, Daniel Anderson, however says their eventual decision was the right one. “I thought it was a knock-on, as a spectator,” Anderson said. Anderson added there was little alternative but to penalised Newcastle’s Jeremy Smith for kicking the ball loose in a tackle at Remondis Stadium, even though it appeared an accident. “The ball has to come out some way – it’s either dropped or a defender is responsible,” he said. “Under the rules, there is nowhere else for the referee to go. Sometimes they have to make miserable decisions.”
4. TIGERS CHANGE SPOTS – AND CHANGE THEM BACK AGAIN
ONLY at Wests Tigers could bad news become good news and then be bad again. When the club released a statement saying three staff members had been let go, it was reported these included assistants Royce Simmons and Steve Georgallis. Bad news – the experienced coaches said they had been used in a publicity stunt because they had each told the joint venture weeks before that they would be departing of their own accord. On Sunday, club chief executive Grant Mayer said they weren’t the men being referred to. Good news. But that mean there are still three officials who are sready for the high jump – and who may very well have some unkind things to say about the decision. Bad news again. Mayer’s comment on ABC that Wests Tigers seem behind Manly when it comes to “sports science”? Could have been better timed….
5. NINES LIVES
A couple more of points regarding the Auckland Nines. If clubs have to field one of their five highest-paid players, but all five go to the World Cup and are therefore exempt, what then? Also, club reportedly resent the NRL is “out-sourcing” the tournament but would you have our governing body steal the intellectual property of someone else who had done all the spade work? I’d suggest they would be in court quicker than you can say “chilly bin”. What the ARLC should have done is gone back to promoters with what they wanted out of the concept. It could have been the launching pad for a Nines circuit, it could have involved Pacific countries or the states or Super League clubs. Instead, all the ARLC and the clubs seem to want out of it is the moolah -– and admittedly some valuable promotion for the sport in New Zealand.
6. WORKING FOR THE ENEMY
COACH Stephen Kearney has received help from the unlikeliest of sources for New Zealand’s bid to retain the World Cup. The Auckland Blues and Waikato chief rugby union franchises have reportedly told Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams respectively that they are happy for them to play in the tournament, to be played in England, Wales, Ireland and France from October 25 to November 30. Marshall wrote in his Sun-Herald column that although his is available for selection, he does not believe his form warrants selection ahead of Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran. He’s right – but Marshall could be a game breaker off the bench. Australia’s stocks were severely dented on Sunday with the loss of Justin Hodges (Achilles), Boyd Cordner (ankle) and perhaps Trent Merrin (knee).
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
SOUTH Sydney are set to take games to Cairns for at least the next two years after Sunday’s unqualified success against Gold Coast.
There were estimates that the premiership match at Barlow Park pumped around $1.7 million into the local economy, justifying the investment by Events Queensland in the fixture.
“We’re coming back for the next two years – it’s been a big success,” says chief executive Shane Richardson
There is already speculation the Rabbits may play Brisbane there next year. Souths are also keen to extend their relationship with Perth, where they’ll play the Warriors in round 17.
“We actually like travelling together the fact we’ve taken a home game out of town would not be an excuse for losing,” said coach Michael Maguire.
Round 17 will be a red letter day of sorts for the game and the practice of shifting games to developing markets, with Darwin, Perth and Mackay all hosting matches on the same weekend.
Titans captain and Cairns product Nate Myles said recent relocated games in Mudgee and his home town had been a pleasure to be involved in.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK