IT’S a game worth packing the stands for and the Riverina has been urged to get behind the City-Country clash on May 3 or risk losing future opportunities.
Representative fixtures of the quality of a City-Country clash rarely come to Wagga and rugby league personalities Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach and Paul Sironen were in the city on Monday to drum up more support.
The pairs City-Country games remain the only time they played against each other and both believe its an important fixture than needs to remain on the calendar.
It’s been more than a decade since the time-honoured game was played in the Riverina and with this year’s game a genuine selection trial for NSW’s State Of Origin team, both urged the Riverina to get behind the game to show just how important it is to the country.
“It’s really important people get behind it and we want to keep this game going on an annual basis,” Sironen said.
“The city guys love playing under Brad Fittler and it’s a great opportunity and I know the Country boys are very proud of their roots.”
The Mortimer brothers, Greg Brentnall and Peter Sterling are just some of the names, Wagga’s reputation as a rugby league nursing ground is undeniable.
When just 4,635 people went through the turnstiles for the 2013 game in Coffs Harbour the concept looked short lived.
Roach is looking for Wagga to come out in force to force to ensure the tradition of showcasing the bush from the bush continues.
“The big thing for the country boys is to showcase where you come from,” Roach said.
“You talk to the all young fellas who get the opportunity to play in a rep game and that’s the ultimate – that’s what you play footy for.”
Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn has already called for so-called ‘injured’ players who withdraw from the fixture only to play the following week for their club to face suspensions in an effort to feature the strongest teams possible.
He’s looking for a sell-out crowd for the event.
“We would love to say the ground is full and we can’t get anymore in,” Quinn said.
“It varies from what they reckon they can hold somewhere from 10-12,000 and while I doubt that is right if we can get 8000 plus on that ground will be just about the max.”
The trio also launched the special ‘Bush Footy’ exhibition, to acknowledge the significant and influential role that the game has played outside of the major cities.
The exhibition will be at the Wagga City Library until May 22.
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