rugby league

The NSW Nationals in the state government have confirmed their commitment to supporting NRL in the bush, with a first grade game destined for Tamworth later this month.

Chairman of the state government’s NRL Regional Taskforce Dugald Saunders said footy and regional NSW were a natural fit, and it’s great to see professional rugby league return to a regional area.

“The NSW Nationals in the state government established the Regional Taskforce as a way of ensuring our regions get the exposure to first grade NRL they deserve, and we’re partnering with the NRL to see the Knights and Warriors battle it out in Tamworth on August 29,” Mr Saunders said.

“I first met with Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V’landys last year about the prospect of getting more games to regional areas, and I’m delighted to see that coming to fruition.

“The Warriors and the Knights are guaranteed to put on a great show at Tamworth, but the real winner is footy in the bush.

“This game will pave the way for 2021, when I’ll oversee the NRL bringing a game to my electorate of Dubbo, as a way to showcase our fantastic region and boost community morale after a tough couple of years.

“This year has been particularly tough for a number of our regional communities on the back of drought, bushfires and COVID-19, but we love our footy and as chair of the taskforce it’s fantastic to be working directly with the Deputy Premier and the NRL to support rugby league in the regions.”

NSW Nationals Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said Tamworth hosted the New Zealand Warriors during COVID-19 travel restrictions and they promised to come back and play a competition game. It will great to see them run onto Scully Park, Mr Anderson said, particularly as they have the Tamworth 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 by the Tamworth community,” Mr Anderson said.

“While we welcome this news and the game, my first priority is the safety of our community. A very strict COVID-19 biosecurity plan will be put in place. West Leagues Club have a fantastic facility for this clash and they have shown in the past they have the capability to manage such a plan.

“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 Nationals in the state government and the NRL supporting Rugby League in the bush.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said given the difficulty experienced across regional areas, a first grade NRL game is a great way to support communities and promote tourism.

“I have said in the past that rugby league is the fabric of life in the bush, so to see the highest level of the game return to its grassroots base is truly exciting,” he said.

“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.”