Toowoomba and Gladstone will host their first ever NRL Telstra Premiership matches after the Gold Coast Titans confirmed on Thursday that they would be taking two home games to regional Queensland centres in 2018.
Necessary due to the staging of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the unavailability of Cbus Super Stadium for a number of weeks, the matches will be played between Rounds 2 and 6 but the Titans' opponents and exact details won't be known until the full release of the draw for season 2018.
The Titans played trial games against the Cowboys and Warriors at Toowoomba's Clive Berghofer Stadium in 2014 and 2015 but a premiership match has never been played in the Garden City located 90 minutes west of Brisbane.
In the game's formative years touring teams from New Zealand and Great Britain made a regular stopover in Toowoomba and Toowoomba teams took part in the Amco Cup in 1976 and 1977, hosting the powerful Canterbury team in their final match.
Four Challenge Cup matches were played in Toowoomba in the early 1990s with the last one seeing St George defeat Parramatta in February, 1991.
Gladstone's exposure to elite level rugby league has been confined to annual visits by Intrust Super Cup club the Central Queensland Capras and Titans CEO Graham Annesley praised the work of the Queensland Government in helping to reach a solution that will provide benefits to all parties.
"Minister Kate Jones and Tourism and Events Queensland are to be complimented for minimising the impact on the Titans regular season, whilst ensuring the club is not commercially disadvantaged as a result of the unavoidable relocation during a period when the eyes of the sporting world will be on the Gold Coast," Annesley said.
"Whilst we would have obviously preferred to played all of our home games at Cbus in front of our loyal members and fans, we see this as a great opportunity to grow our brand and club’s footprint across Queensland."
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg is also happy that more matches will be taken to regional areas.
"We have said for some time it was our strong desire to take more games to regional venues in 2018, and we’re extremely happy to have been able to do that as part of the new schedule," Greenberg said.
The Titans will have 10 home games at Cbus Super Stadium next season and will also participate in the double-header at Suncorp Stadium in Round 10 where they will face the Storm for the second year in a row.