Take the support of your team on the road in 2017 and make some wonderful discoveries along the way.
Rugby league and music's biggest names
If you're going to follow your team across state borders it's worth keeping an eye out on what else might be on while you are in town and there are some cracking concerts coming our way in 2017. Yes, you may have already needed to purchase tickets to attend these shows but if you have – or someone close to you has – you can kindly offer to accompany them and make a weekend of it. Adele is playing ANZ Stadium the night before the Sea Eagles host the Bunnies at Brookie and a week later the English songstress plays Melbourne two nights after the Storm host the Broncos at AAMI Park. Broncos fans with an affinity for the Dixie Chicks – I'm looking at you Corey Parker – can go all country in Sydney the night before their team takes on the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium to kick off Round 5 while westies from Penrith can do the Dixie Chicks-Storm double later that weekend in Melbourne. And if comedy is more your style, the inimitable Jerry Seinfeld plays Brisbane a couple of days before the Sharks come to town.
Enjoy some Kiwi hospitality
Auckland may be the rugby league and business hub of New Zealand but once again in 2017 the game is heading to other regions found in the land of the long white cloud. As they have done in recent years Canterbury are taking a home game to NZ again in 2017 but this time are venturing to new territories, taking an NRL game to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin for the first time. Replacing Carisbrook as the home of the Otago Highlanders, Forsyth Barr attracted more than 15,000 fans for a Four Nations clash between New Zealand and England in 2014. Located less than 80 kilometres from Queenstown, Otago is renowned for its wineries, bike trails and golf courses and makes a perfect early-season getaway. In Round 11 the Warriors are taking their home game against the Dragons to FMG Stadium in Waikato in the upper North Island where Lord of the Rings fans can combine a visit to Hobbiton with 80 minutes of rugby league.
Gate-crash a mate's home game
Think about the most crazed rugby league friend you have. Now ring them and tell them you're coming to their house in 2017. Hopefully they are a member of their club and can at least shout you some decent seats but even if you have to sit together out on the hill it will be one of the most memorable experiences you will enjoy in 2017. So much about being a footy fan revolves around the banter with like-minded souls so this season, rather than texting your mate your delight when David Klemmer knocks eight blokes out of the way before scoring under the posts, make sure you're sitting next to them so you can really savour the moment. And the best thing of all is that in 2018 it will be their turn to come to your place.
Be part of history at Adelaide Oval
It will be just shy of six years when first class rugby league returns to Adelaide Oval in June next year and one of Australia's most iconic sporting grounds has undergone some radical change in that time. Since 2011 Adelaide Oval has been transformed by a $535 million upgrade that now sees the ground capable of holding crowds in excess of 50,000, dwarfing the largest rugby league attendance at Adelaide Oval of 28,884 who saw St George defeat Balmain in 1991 in the first game played at the venue. Melbourne played Canterbury in matches at Adelaide Oval in 2010 and 2011 with the Storm winning 28-18 in 2011 in front of close to 10,000 fans and they are back in 2017 to play the Roosters, who have taken a home game to South Australia for the first time. It's a rare opportunity to mix rugby league with one of this country's most beautiful cities; don't miss it.
Rugby league is back at Adelaide Oval.
See your team win in the west
There are two chances to watch NRL action in Perth six weeks apart in 2017 and while we're not suggesting setting up camp for that length of time, four sets of fans have the chance to visit Western Australia and experience all Perth has to offer. Watch the sun go down over the ocean while sipping a beverage on the deck of the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, duck down to the enormous Fremantle Markets and hunt for a bargain or really make a weekend of it with a trip down to the wine region of Margaret River. The Rabbitohs and Storm meet in Round 11 on Sunday, May 21 with the Sea Eagles and Warriors to do battle in Round 17 on Saturday, July 1.
Make a mid-winter escape to North Queensland
We all love repping our teams by wearing our replica jerseys to games but those in the southern states can sometimes suffer by having their team's colours hidden under three layers of clothing. So rather than sitting in the stands shivering, show how devoted you are by supporting your team in the north of Queensland (and catch some rays while you're there). When the winter months kick in Penrith fans can head to Townsville in Round 16 to watch their team face the Cowboys while it would be almost rude for Rabbitohs fans not to travel after their team chose to take their Round 19 game against the Cowboys to Cairns. And Kiwi fans, if it turns out to be bitter this winter, you can thaw out in Townsville in Round 20.
Secure an Origin seat at Suncorp
I know it's been hard for Blues fans to get excited about a trip to cheer on the Blues at Suncorp Stadium this past decade but if you are reading this story and haven't done Origin at 'The Cauldron' you are missing out on one of the great experiences rugby league has to offer its fans. It's primal; a throwback to bygone eras where games weren't so much packaged as smashed together to see who would survive. The atmosphere that is generated reverberates in your seat and seeps through to your bones no matter where you happen to be sitting in the stadium. It's a spiritual experience no matter who you support and whether they win or lose and this year there are two chances to be there and be part of it. Make the most of it.
Enjoy what the Top End has to offer
You only have to have seen what players from the Titans got up to during their visit to Darwin last year to know there is a whole lot of Australia that can be experienced before the footy kicks off at TIO Stadium. Having flown in from Perth on their cross-country road trip Titans players split into three groups; some went deep sea fishing, others went to see the jumping crocodiles on the Adelaide River while another went on a helicopter ride across the Top End's stunning landscape. Crocosaurus Cove is a tourism favourite, the Darwin waterfront caters to those who prefer a little less bite in their adventure and the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre is a fascinating step back in time for the history buffs. For the fourth year in succession the Eels are back in Darwin in Round 14 and this time they are taking on the Cowboys.
An ANZAC extravaganza
If you need to block out one round to go to absolutely as many games of football as you can then Round 8 (April 21-25) is the one to highlight, and you barely have to leave your seat. ANZ Stadium will play host to three games in three successive days before the Roosters and Dragons take to Allianz Stadium on ANZAC Day for their traditional clash which in 2017 is on a Tuesday. The monster weekend of footy kicks off on Friday night with the Rabbitohs and Broncos, backs up on Saturday with the western Sydney derby between the Eels and Panthers and then moves into Sunday with another battle of the west with the Tigers meeting the Bulldogs.
Go to Bathurst and beyond
Panthers fans who cross the Blue Mountains to watch their team take on the Raiders at Carrington Park in Bathurst in Round 14 may not get much further than the town most famous for its mountain but Bathurst also serves as the gateway to other Central West delights. Famous for its food and wine, Mudgee is just 90 minutes from Bathurst while neighbouring Orange is also gaining a reputation for wonderful wine offerings with fresh local produce to deliver culinary delights to match. Canberra supporters who make the three-and-a-half hour drive up from the ACT can stop in at Cowra on the way to Bathurst and visit the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre that was first established as the Japanese War Cemetery to honour those who died in the famous Cowra Breakout.
Round-by-round: The 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership draw