Blockbuster opening to 2015 season
The 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership will open with a series of blockbuster matches and live television coverage of Sunday afternoon games will return next year.
And ANZAC Day will be one of the biggest days in the code's history with five games being played in Auckland, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on the same day.
NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind said the Telstra Premiership would open in front of a massive crowd at Suncorp Stadium with the Broncos taking on 2014 premiers South Sydney.
The traditional blockbuster between the Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters will be staged on Sunday afternoon in Round 2 at ANZ Stadium. The return clash will be at Allianz Stadium in Round 26 in the lead up to the finals.
There will be a series of big games in the first four rounds – including Manly v Bulldogs, Broncos v Cowboys, Eels v Rabbitohs and Cowboys v Storm in the lead up to Easter (Round 5).
Two games will be held on Good Friday (Bulldogs v Rabbitohs and Titans v Broncos) and three on Easter Monday (Eels v Tigers, Storm v Warriors and Panthers v Cowboys.
"We know families want to go to games on public holidays and there will be more opportunity to do this in 2015," Mr Kind said.
"In addition to the Easter matches, we have created a new marquee game on the Queen's Birthday long weekend with the Bulldogs v Dragons scheduled for Monday afternoon."
A highlight of the season will be a special commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli in Round eight.
The NRL will contribute to the occasion by staging five games on the same day - in Auckland, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Four of the matches will be televised on Fox Sports with the traditional Roosters v Dragons game shown on the Nine Network.
Other features of the Telstra Premiership include:
• Live coverage of Sunday afternoon football on Channel Nine at 4pm
• A Festival of Football in Melbourne based around the historic second Origin match at the MCG
• The Warriors v Broncos game in Round 4 will be televised live on Channel Nine at noon immediately before the World Cup Cricket Final
• A revitalised schedule for Monday night football on Fox Sports featuring stronger games
• Thursday night football returns for Round one and the last four rounds of the competition
Mr Kind said the NRL, Channel Nine and Fox Sports had worked closer than ever with the clubs to deliver the best possible schedule for the fans, clubs and players.
Nine Head of Sport Steve Crawley said: "Giving NRL fans the best coverage of their game live and free on the Nine Network is something of which we're very proud.
"The 2015 season will no doubt build on the outstanding success we had together with the NRL in 2014."
Fox Sports CEO, Patrick Delany, said: "This is a really strong draw for Fox Sports subscribers and fans, highlighted by a blockbuster Saturday and Monday night schedule.
"Fox Sports is where NRL fans can truly live and breathe the game they love.
"With five live weekly games in high definition and the best entertainment from each of our weekly NRL shows - Monday Night with Matty Johns, NRL 360 and Sterlo - 2015 is the year NRL fans will get more than ever, and will be closer to their favourite teams and heroes than ever before."
Mr Kind said the NRL would join with the clubs and use the calendar of events to drive even more memberships in 2015.
"We set a new record of more than 250,000 memberships this year – and next year we are determined to do even better," he said.
Fans can sign up to become a member on www.nrl.com/membership.
The full schedule can be found on www.nrl.com.