Grassroots footy in regional NSW is set to be boosted with the NSW Government and NRL announcing a Premiership game will take place in Tamworth later this month.
Deputy Premier, John Barilaro said the game – which will be played between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights on 29 August – was huge news for rugby league in the regions, “where people live and breathe sport”.
“This year I set an ambitious goal to bring first grade footy to the bush and today I can announce the NSW Government is delivering on that commitment by partnering with the NRL to bring a premiership game to Tamworth,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of lows around our great state but one thing that has remained strong and kept our spirits high is our love of footy.
“I have said in the past that rugby league is the fabric of life in the bush so to see the elite level of the game return to its grassroots base is truly exciting.
“Over the last few months many of our regional communities have seen a glimmer of hope that the drought will break and this is one more thing to look forward to for those living in the country.
“The Warriors and the Knights are guaranteed to put on a show in this Trans-Tasman encounter, but the real winner on the day is footy in the bush.”
Acting Minister for Sport, Geoff Lee said bringing the NRL’s first graders into our regional communities was a big win for the bush.
“NSW is the home of rugby league and the game is loved and played across the state from our city to our regions,” Mr Lee said.
“Taking the NRL out of the big smoke and into the country will give families from Tamworth the chance to see their stars from the stands.”
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Peter V’landys said the match provided the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the Tamworth community for their assistance in the resumption of the Telstra Premiership.
“We want to thank the Tamworth community and businesses for their kindness, support and hospitality shown to the Warriors whilst they were in their beautiful town,’’ Mr V’landys said.
“Allowing the Warriors to quarantine in Tamworth played an important role in the season resuming on May 28. We also want to thank the NSW Government for their ongoing assistance throughout the pandemic.”
Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson said it would be a pleasure to welcome back the New Zealand Warriors to Tamworth after hosting them during quarantine at the start of the season.
“The club promised to come back and play a competition game and it will be great to see them run onto Scully Park Tamworth, particularly as they have our postcode embroidered on their jersey. They have fond memories of their time here and are looking forward to coming back to say thanks for the outstanding hospitality shown to them during that period,” Mr Anderson said.
“This will be a crackerjack game with the Knights holding a strong fan base in Tamworth and the Warriors who have also built a strong following.
“We love our footy so it’s fantastic to see the NSW Government and the NRL supporting rugby league in the bush.”