NRL launch 2011 Telstra Premiership draw

The St George Illawarra Dragons begin their Telstra Premiership title defence against the Titans in 2011 during a blockbusting first round that kicks off on March 11 and sees games in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Canberra.

After a 2010 season that saw attendance records broken for a second straight year, the stage is set for members and fans to show their team colours from the start with the Broncos taking on the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, St George Illawarra against the Titans at Skilled Park, the Roosters against the Rabbitohs at the Sydney Football Stadium, the Storm against the Sea Eagles at AAMI Park, the Raiders against the Sharks at Canberra, the Panthers against the Knights at CUA Stadium, the Warriors against the Eels in Auckland and the Bulldogs against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium.

Again the Harvey Norman All Stars will signal the countdown to the 2011 season, completing a week of Community Carnival and Indigenous events at Skilled Park on February 12.

“It’s an exciting start to the season that gives people a chance to celebrate the return of Rugby League like never before with all the game’s big stadiums in play on the same weekend,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“Only a few days have passed since this year’s Telstra Premiership was decided and there is a Four Nations tournament ahead, but it says something for the passion of the game’s members and fans that they are already planning their year around next season’s draw.”

Already one of the key dates in the plans of every fan will be April 8, which kicks off the 2011 Heritage Round. Heritage Round (Rd 5) will see St George Illawarra play its first home game of the year against the Bulldogs (the club has requested that they be scheduled away from home in the opening rounds).

Heritage Round, which will again be conducted in association with the Men of League Foundation, will also see the Wests Tigers take on the Rabbitohs at the SCG, the Sharks against the Sea Eagles and the Broncos against the Knights.

Two weeks later the Grand Final replay shapes up as one of the games of the year as the traditional ANZAC Day match between the Dragons and the Roosters takes on even greater significance on Easter Monday at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The 2011 draw again features City v Country (venue to be confirmed) and an Australia v New Zealand Test in Christchurch on May 6 as well as the Harvey Norman State of Origin Series which this year sees Suncorp Stadium host matches on May 25 and July 6 and ANZ Stadium on June 15.

Feature rounds include the One Community Women in League Round from June 24-27 (Rd 16), the Rivalry Round from July 15-18 (Rd 19) and the Close the Gap Round from August 5-8 (Rd 22).

Rivalry Round, which features the Broncos against the Titans, the Dragons against the Sharks, the Panthers against the Eels and the Rabbitohs against the Roosters, will mark the start of the Glory Bound Rounds and the final race to the play-offs.

The Telstra Premiership Finals Series starts September 9-11 with the Semi-Finals on September 16-17, the Preliminary Finals on September 23-24 and the Telstra Premiership Grand Final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, October 2.

“As we saw in 2010 every game in the Telstra Premiership is a unique contest,” Mr Gallop said.

“It’s hard to look at the draw for 2011 and not want the matches to be starting in a week’s time. Certainly this is the signal for fans to start purchasing their membership packages and committing to their team.

“The benefits for members in accessing the best available seats are clear.

“Rugby League is a game for everyone in the community but the demand for tickets at major events is such that membership is the best way to guarantee a seat at every match.

“Over the next few weeks fans still have the opportunity to see their heroes in action in the Four Nations tournament and they can be a part of the voting process for the All Stars through nrl.com.

“It’s a great time to also renew a membership or to plan the best Christmas present you could ever give a Rugby League fan.”

View the 2011 Telstra Premiership Draw