Rugby League will be played from coast to coast across Australia and New Zealand with NRL games scheduled for Darwin, Mackay, Mudgee and Perth, with the NRL draw to be released tomorrow on NRL.com having an obvious focus on regional venues and non-traditional areas.
The focus will be highlighted in a historic Round 17 as the game spans Australia with games scheduled to be played in Perth, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all on the same weekend as the NRL looks to promote Rugby League nationwide.
The Bulldogs are set to take another game to Mackay, where hometown hero Ben Barba electrified the local crowd this season by setting up one of the tries of the year, a 107 metre effort finished off by Josh Morris.
The Rabbitohs will play games in Perth and Cairns, Parramatta will play in Mudgee, the Titans will take a game to Darwin, the annual Country v City clash will be hosted in Coffs Harbour, while Australia will play in the Nation’s capital for the first time as part of their centenary celebrations when they take on New Zealand.
NRL Interim CEO, Mr Shane Mattiske said it was an opportunity to take games to other markets and showcase Rugby League:
“These are games that are going to generate a lot of enthusiasm,” Mr Mattiske told NRL.com.
“One of the objectives of the strategic plan is to expand the presence of the game through the placement of matches in regional and new markets and we are certainly seeing some examples of that in this year’s draw.
“We are seeing a growing appetite for Rugby League in all areas and we are looking for more opportunities to give more people access to the NRL.”
The first 20 rounds of the NRL draw will be released first on NRL.com on Friday at 11am.