Touch players welcome profile boost
The Australian men's and women's touch football captains have both welcomed the profile boost the sport has received with the 2015 Touch Football World Cup about to kick off – and highlights of finals games set to be featured on Channel Nine.
Both Steve Roberts and Louise Winchester are heading into their fourth World Cups, having been successful at Japan in 2003, South Africa in 2007 and Scotland in 2011, but both have welcomed the chance to contest a trophy on home soil.
The eighth Touch Football World Cup will be held in Coffs Harbour from April 29 to May 3, with an hour-long highlights package of each division's finals matches leading into the 4pm Country v City clash in Wagga Wagga on May 3.
"There have been a lot more opportunities for exposure after the partnership with the NRL; they've been fantastic in promoting our sport," Roberts told NRL.com at the launch.
"The likes of Matty Moylan, Shaun Johnson, Jamie Soward and Benji Marshall, all those players that have come through playing touch football as well as rugby league, it's great for both games and we're certainly seeing the benefits.
"It's very exciting to hear [about the Channel Nine coverage], we've been on pay TV before but to be on Channel Nine and have that free-to-air exposure is fantastic and really exciting for the sport.
"Hopefully it continues to build and this is the start of the snowball."
Although Australia have won all seven men's Touch World Cups to date, Roberts said the competition is growing and he is looking forward to seeing how some of the other nations have developed since the Edinburgh tournament four years ago.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how the other countries have come along. Australia and New Zealand are the ones to beat but I'm looking forward to seeing the likes of South Africa, Japan and Scotland and how they've come along over the last four years because they've done a lot of development back in their countries."
Winchester was blown away by the profile boost the sport has had since the NRL partnership was announced.
"It's been fantastic – it's blown my mind and we appreciate it so much to get that support from the NRL and sponsors like Harvey Norman," she said.
"When I first started playing things like this were unheard of in the sport of touch football so to have this opportunity not just for myself and the players, but for us as a sport is an absolute privilege."
She described the fact games would be featured live on free-to-air TV as "huge".
"I still can't believe that. The coverage is certainly getting better and stronger in that regard but to be on Channel Nine is great for the sport."
Former touch player and Penrith Panthers fullback Matt Moylan, whose older brother Ben Moylan will line up for Australia in the World Cup, said he was happy the codes were working together to the benefit of each other.
"I always played both [sports] growing up – it probably helped a lot with the skills and agility sort of stuff and I think that transfers well into rugby league," Moylan said.
"I think [the partnership is] good for the sport, it's definitely growing, I think it's a good partnership for both codes going forward. It's good they're finally getting some good coverage of it."