The voice of rugby league has declared it’s time for the NRL to bring top-class club football to the Riverina.
Legendary Junee-born commentator Ray Warren, whose voice has accompanied televised rugby league for more than 40 years, has described the NRL’s decision to bring as many as eight games per year to regional areas each season from 2018 as a “great relief”.
“I’m all for it – I’ve been pushing for it for years, to be honest,” he said.
“I think that’s the only way I can repay the country for providing me with a great upbringing. I just think it’s essential we have to turn something back into country football.”
Under the new television deal the NRL and Channel Nine have agreed this week, the sport’s governing body will regain control of the scheduling of fixtures.
The Advertiser’s Our Sporting Chance campaign has been pushing for the NRL to bring a competition match to Wagga following May’s City-Country clash at Equex, which drew a capacity crowd.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith this week told the Advertiser there was now more scope to take games to the bush – and he will ensure regional areas benefit from the agreement.
Mr Warren said the City-Country clash – which he had been set to call for Channel Nine until a torrential storm in Brisbane on the night of the Anzac Test forced a last-minute change of plans – had been a coup for the city, but a club match would take that excitement to the next level.
“The matches you’re going to see in the country are fair dinkum matches where there’s two points on offer,” he said.
“You’re really going to see the best of the best now.”
Now the NRL has agreed to bring games to the bush, Mr Warren would like to see each club align themselves with a particular area.
“You can take your pick who you align with the Riverina, but it might be Canterbury from where the Mortimers and Brentnalls and people have come from,” he said.
“That NRL club could turn some money into the infrastructure in the area they are aligned with, and then of course, every year, that club goes to their area and plays a game of football.”
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