Canberra will celebrate 100 years as the nation’s capital by hosting its first ever Rugby League Test featuring Australia in April 2013.
Australian Rugby League Commission Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, today joined ACT Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Sport Andrew Barr, Australian coach Tim Sheens, Raiders Chief Executive, Mr Don Furner, and Raiders Test star David Shillington in Canberra to announce the historic Test, which will be played at Canberra Stadium.
The Test will be the highlight of a week-long Rugby League celebration that will feature a host of community and corporate events showcasing the game’s connection with the local region.
“The Canberra Raiders are the most enduring and successful sporting brand in the nation’s capital so it’s great to be able to celebrate the Centenary of Canberra with a world-class Rugby League Test match between Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Mattiske said.
“Canberra was a wonderful host city during the 2008 Rugby League World Cup but to have the Kangaroos playing here for the first time is a great opportunity for local fans to enjoy the excitement, pride and tradition of international Rugby League.”
Minister for Sport Andrew Barr said today’s announcement was a significant boost for Rugby League in the ACT.
“The Test match will not only be a great chance for locals to come out and see the Australian team in action, it gives visitors even more reasons to visit our city, providing a boost for local tourism operators,” Mr Barr said.
“Hosting matches of this calibre also helps raise the profile of Canberra as the nation’s sporting capital and I thank the Australian Rugby League Commission for their support in securing the Test match for Canberra Stadium in our centenary year.”
The Test between Four Nations champions Australia and World Champions New Zealand will be the first international of an exciting year for international Rugby League in the countdown to the 2013 World Cup in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France.
Australian coach Tim Sheens – who coached the Raiders to three Premierships – said the Test would be a crucial part of the Kangaroos’ build-up to the World Cup.
“Every Test is special and we will be doing everything we can to make sure we win this clash, but with 2013 being a World Cup year it certainly adds to the importance of this match,” Sheens said.
Raiders captain David Shillington, who has played 13 Tests for the Kangaroos, said the match will attract huge support from Raiders fans.
“Playing for Australia is always a huge honour, but to do it in front of my home club fans at Canberra Stadium would be something special,” Shillington said.
“Raiders fans are among some of the most passionate in the NRL and will turn out in big numbers to see a Test match in Canberra.”