Rabbitohs prop George Burgess believes the NRL's decision to stage a double-header at the new Perth Stadium next season is a huge step forward for the game as it looks to broaden its national footprint.
South Sydney and the Bulldogs will host games in the historic double-header in Round 1 of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season in what shapes as the first confirmed sporting event at the new state-of-the-art precinct.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday morning with the NRL hopeful of selling out the 60,000 seat stadium for the blockbuster event.
The Rabbitohs - who have over 1000 members in Western Australia - have taken a home game to Perth every year since 2009 with all three matches against the Warriors attracting crowds in excess of 20,000.
"We always enjoy going over there and I've always had a good time when I've gone there over the last few years," Burgess told NRL.com.
"To have a really high profile game like a Round 1 fixture is going to be great for our members who are already over there plus those in NSW who want to travel and support us. It'll also be great for the city of Perth and the entire state because it's clear to see that the popularity of rugby league is growing in Western Australia.
"I did some promotional stuff with WA for the game this year and it was great to see the interest over there so it's promising signs for the future of the game.
"They're sports mad in Perth and they're starting to get really interested in the game of rugby league so it's great that we can accommodate that. Rugby league is such a great sport so the more we can bring it around Australia, the more everyone can experience it."
Back-rower Angus Crichton got his first taste of footy in Perth earlier in the year when the Rabbitohs played host to the Melbourne Storm and believes the decision to take games to the west is more important than ever with a gaping hole in the market emerging after the ARU decided to axe the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition.
"I've only been to Perth once for a game and had a great time so I look forward to getting back there next year," he told NRL.com.
"It's unreal going to Perth given the fan base we've developed in the area. It's good for us and good for the game especially when you look at the Force closing its doors. It's a good opportunity for us to put on a good show and continue to grow the game on a national level."