The Top 10 road trips in 2015
There is nothing better than a sporting trip away with friends and family. Packing up the car or the suitcase and going to a place you haven't been to before and enjoying the greatest game of all. There are plenty of road trips you could do in 2015, NRL.com has picked our top 10 - we'll see you there!
10. Panthers v Titans, Carrington Park, Bathurst, Round 2 (Saturday) March 14.
Why not make a weekend of it on your way to Bathurst? Other than the obvious drive up Mount Panorama where you channel your inner Peter Brock at the home of the Bathurst 1000, there are in-town visits to the National Motor Racing Museum or you can tell the kids to find some dinosaurs at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum as well. You could go for a bit of a drive on the Sunday too: an hour south of the country town are Abercrombrie's limestone caves, while you can also get lost an hour south-east in the Jenolan Caves.
9. Take your pick: Melbourne, Auckland, Sydney. Three different cities, three rare sporting doubles.
a) Storm v Sharks, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Round 3, March 21.
There's last season's qualifying finals re-match between the Roosters and Panthers at Allianz on Monday, March 23. Just five days beforehand on March 18 is the first cricket World Cup quarter-final next door at the SCG, or you can wait for the semi-final on March 26. Take your pick or attend all three.
b) Warriors v Eels, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, Round 3 (Saturday) March 21.
For Warriors and Eels fans, you can watch your game at Mt Smart on March 21 and then see the first World Cup semi-final at Eden Park - just three days later - on March 24. Here's the catch: It will most likely feature Australia.
c) Roosters v Panthers, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Round 3 (March 23).
But Sharks fans, you're in for the biggest treat. If you're lucky enough to get a week away from work, get down early to Melbourne where you can watch the first World Cup quarter final on Thursday, March 19. Two days later is the big game against Melbourne, and then you can try and stick around for final on Sunday, March 29.
8. Storm v Panthers, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Round 19 (Sunday) July 19.
How about catching some of the world's biggest stars, you could watch Melbourne's big three of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith followed by Christiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Francesco Totti. Three of soccer's glamour clubs in Real Madrid, Manchester City and AS Roma are flying in for the third leg of the International Champions Cup in July. And in what is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, three games are scheduled between July 18-24, but you can could start the week with the Storm-Panthers game on Saturday, July 19, or finish it with the Storm v Dragons on Saturday, July 25.
7. Cowboys v Broncos, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Round 10 (Friday) May 15.
Cowboys fans travel from far and wide every second week, for a lot of the loyal faithful, a home game is a road trip in itself, but the local derby against their Queensland cousins gives them more reason than most. Only once in the past decade has the Cowboys-Broncos clash attracted a crowd of less than 20,000. It is sure to be a blockbuster.
6. Rabbitohs v Warriors, NiB Stadium, Perth, Round 13 (Saturday) June 6.
The 2014 premiers get to continue their love affair with the good folk in Perth, where they've won four of six games at their home away from home NiB Stadium. And given the ground record crowd of 20,267 in last season's Round 13 win over the Warriors, it seems the relationship is a reciprocal one. It really isn't a bad way to spend the weekend, especially if you take a ferry and spend the Sunday at Rottnest Island or the markets out at Fremantle. This year, the Rabbitohs are offering a package deal that includes a golf outing with former first grader Scott Geddes, but we can't guarantee he will let you win.
5. Dragons v Rabbitohs, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Round 19 (Saturday) July 18.
There's nothing that compares to rugby league under the haunting lights of the Sydney Cricket Ground, where the Dragons host the Rabbitohs in July. A tour of the precinct involves walk-throughs at the SCG, Allianz Stadium and the SCG museum. From the famous Gladiators photo of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons, to John Sattler's broken jaw and more recently, Nathan Merritt's field goal, a lot of rugby league's most iconic moments have happened at the SCG and it is a ground well worthy of a road trip.
4. Back to Belmore, Belmore Sportsground, Sydney, Round 16 & 20, June 29 & July 26.
There's a reason why the locals have been crying out for the game to return to Belmore for the past 14 years – and it's not just for the view of the train tracks on the northern end. Sure, watch skipper Michael Ennis and his new Sharks teammates roll into town in round 20. But make sure you don't leave without picking up a kebab at Awafy's on the main drag (don't forget the garlic sauce), a coffee at Jobel's or Diane's (of which Frank Pritchard has a share) or simply head to Canterbury Leagues for some light refreshments and a look at the Bulldogs long list of memorabilia. You'll be guaranteed to see Terry Lamb's flowing locks prancing around somewhere.
3. Eels v Panthers, TIO Stadium, Darwin, Round 22.
Parramatta will invite the Darwinians to be their home crowd, taking their "local derby" against Penrith some 4000 kilometres north-west of their home in western Sydney. It's the second year in a row the Eels take a game to the Northern Territory – they beat Canberra up there last year – but it will be the fourth time in four years an NRL game will be played at the old Marrara Park. So if you want to take the kids up for a weekend getaway, the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre and Leanyer Recreation Park are musts, SkyCity is a good place to try your luck, while Mindil Beach at the Top End gives you the best view of the sunset.
2. Country v City, McDonalds Park, Wagga Wagga (Saturday) May 3.
The second game in country NSW on the NRL calendar next year is the annual NSW Country City fixture, held in Wagga Wagga's McDonalds Park for just the second time in its 26 game history. While the gathering of 34 NRL stars is the undoubted star attraction of the May2-3 weekend, the home town of Peter Sterling and the Mortimer brothers will also boast the highly-rated Botanic Gardens site and National Art Glass gallery. Wagga is home of the Chicko Roll, so make sure you grab yourself one, and make a weekend of it to go to the famous Wagga Gold Cup Carnival - it starts the Thursday leading into the weekend.
1. New South Wales v Queensland, Melbourne Cricket Ground, June 17.
It almost doesn't matter what else is on in the sporting capital of Australia in the week of June 17, because that's when the nation's greatest sporting rivalry once again rolls into town for Game II of the 2015 State of Origin series. But there's a few events for all types in weekends before and after for the family – A Good Food and Wine Show occurs from the 5-8th of June, boy band 5 Seconds of Summer put on five shows beginning from the 18th, and then the St Petersburg Ballet – Swan Lake starts on the 20th. Throw in the Storm-Eels clash on Monday night, just two days before Origin and you have plenty of reasons to plan a road trip and make a great holiday out of it.