WAGGA'S bid to host its first NRL Premiership match in nearly two decades has been plunged into doubt just weeks out from the release of the 2016 draw.
A tumultuous turn of events at NRL headquarters that has seen its chief executive Dave Smith depart and next year’s scheduling thrown up in the air has cast doubt on Wagga’s chances of securing a game.
Admitting many in the game in Wagga had felt “let down” in recent years by those pulling the strings at rugby league’s top level, one Group Nine club president said staying the course and bringing an NRL match to Equex would be a “much-needed shot in the arm” for the sport in Wagga.
“If (the kids) see their heroes down here, it encourages them to get out and try a game of (rugby) league and as far as Southcity and other clubs in the group go, it’s good for our numbers,” Southcity president Rod Porter said.
“The more the kids see the players live and get to meet them, it definitely encourages them to take the sport up.”
The Advertiser’s Our Sporting Chance campaign has been pushing for the NRL to bring a game to Wagga’s Equex Centre after this year’s City-Country fixture drew a crowd of nearly 10,000 to the venue.
Monday Night Football was set to be hosted in regional centres next year, but that plan has been thrown into jeopardy amid reports games may not be scheduled on the first day of the working week in 2016. The NRL is keeping next year’s fixture list – expected to be released in the next few weeks – a closely guarded secret.
An NRL spokesman said the organisation was still keen to engage with clubs and broadcasters on moving games to regional centres.
The more the kids see the players live and get to meet them, it definitely encourages them to take the sport up.- Rod Porter
“We have a strong appetite for playing games in rural and regional areas,” the NRL spokesman said.
“Where we can find additional opportunities to take games to regional areas, we will work with our broadcast partners and clubs to try to take games to those areas.
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