With eight matches scheduled across regional New South Wales and Queensland, plus blockbuster events in major cities including Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne, elite-level rugby league will be taken to every corner of the Aussie mainland in 2018 and beyond.
“There will be five matches in regional locations of New South Wales, in four different centres: Bathurst, Gosford, Mudgee and Tamworth,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg beamed to the media at the official release of the 2018 season draw in October last year. “There will also be three matches in regional Queensland through Cairns, Gladstone and Toowoomba.
“On top of that, the Charity Shield will also move to Mudgee. Fans in our regional locations will see far more footy up close than ever before. You’ll see the very best of the Telstra premiership all across Australia and New Zealand in 2018.”
Inspired by the NRL’s ambitions of taking the game’s elite competition to all corners of the country, we wondered what a schedule might look like if you were to sit down and plan an itinerary to take in as many of these “outpost” games as you could?
An obvious starting point would be Perth, where a double-header featuring Souths taking on the Warriors and the Bulldogs hosting the Storm will be played at the brand new Optus Stadium on Saturday March 10.
Next, you might head to Toowoomba, where on Sunday, March 25 the Gold Coast Titans will be hosting the Dragons in Ben Hunt’s return to Queensland following his switch from the Broncos to the Red V.
After a couple of weeks’ saving your pennies back up, there’s a neat little tour through country NSW on offer for the most keen among you. Starting off in Tamworth (Saturday 21 April), where you’ll catch the Wests Tigers taking on Newcastle, you’ll then head to Bathurst for Penrith’s traditional match there. This year that happens on Friday, May 4. Sixteen days later (Sunday, 20 May) you could find yourself in Mudgee for the Dragons vs Raiders.