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The 2011 Telstra Premiership rugby league season is set for its fifth successive year of sustained membership growth with 11 clubs expected to pass their 2010 membership totals by kick-off on March 11.

Across the game, club membership totals are already up 40 per cent on the same time last year with South Sydney on track to become the first club to break through the 20,000 member mark; while the Titans were the first club to smash through their 2010 membership total.

“The enthusiasm and the rivalry around membership is a really positive statement about the health of the game,” NRL Chief Executive David Gallop said today at the launch of the “Battle of the West” membership competition between the Wests Tigers, Eels and Panthers.

“As we enter this race between three clubs with huge supporter bases, the 2011 membership figure is already rivaling the membership total we reached mid-year in 2010.

“In essence, we’re five months ahead of what was a record total and people are still signing up to support their team.

“It’s important that people realise that membership plays a vital role in the strength of their club and ultimately the performance of their team and it’s a great way of feeling a part of your team’s success.”

Club captains Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels) and Petero Civoniceva (Panthers) and coaches went head-to-head at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney today, joining celebrity members to launch the “Battle of the West”.

Wests Tigers members Barry O’Farrell MP and Daniel Geale, Eels member Vince Sorrenti and Panthers members Mark Geyer and Stuart Ayres MP joined forces to kickstart the campaign that will run from this Saturday, February 26, to March 4, and will see the club that signs the most members in the seven-day period take home $10,000.

The “Battle of the West” is the third in a series of club membership competitions which have already seen the “Battle of the Beaches” and the “Battle of Legends” drive 9000 fans to take up a 2011 NRL club membership in the space of a fortnight.

“Just like the Premiership ladder, everyone is now watching the membership list so let's gather in our opponents just like our footy team will do in 2011,” Panthers #1 Ticketed Member, Mark Geyer, said today.

“Let's put our (hard earned) money where our mouths are Panther supporters. Sign up now and become a member.”
Wests Tigers member Barry O’Farrell MP said: “Supporting the Wests Tigers is great, but becoming a member is even better because then you're part of the club which makes sharing in the team's success even more special.”

Former Australian cricketer and Parramatta Eels member, Nathan Bracken, is another celebrity member to get behind his team.

“This is a great way to get behind your team; no matter where you live in Australia, Parramatta has a membership program that can suit anyone,” Bracken said.

The “Battle of the West” membership campaign follows the “Battle of the Beaches” between Manly, the Roosters and the Sharks; and the “Battle of the Legends” between the Rabbitohs, the Dragons and the Bulldogs, with record numbers of new members signing up to the six clubs.

“Members are more than just fans; they’ve made a commitment to our club to support us through thick and thin,” Wests Tigers captain, Robbie Farah, said.

“Having a loyalty like that is unrivalled and we need as many fans to take the next steps and become members.”

Penrith Panthers coach Matt Elliott said: "It's time for all Panthers supporters to step up, show their pride in the club and become a Panthers member.
“Everything out west is rugby league turf and now is the time that all rugby league supporters need to show their true colours."

Parramatta captain Nathan Hindmarsh believes it’s also time for Eels fans to sign up en mass.

“Our Blue and Gold Army Members are really important to the club and it’s the best way for our fans to show they really support us,” Hindmarsh said.

“It’s not just the players, but our members that make us one strong team.

“We want all our fans to help us be number one in the Battle of the West. Membership is essential to keep your club strong, so I want to encourage all fans to join up and show their support.”

Throughout the campaign, issues daily membership figures so fans can track their club’s progress.