New TV deal sees Coffs a chance to host NRL match
TOP level rugby league could be returning to Coffs Harbour in the near future, and in good news it wouldn't be a Mickey Mouse pre-season game but a contest where two competition points are on the line.
When announcing the NRL's free-to-air broadcast deal earlier this week, CEO Dave Smith noted the fanatical support rugby league enjoyed in the bush and said when the new deal started in 2018, regional centres like Coffs Harbour should be rewarded for its support.
"We are going to ensure that regional areas benefit from this agreement," Smith said.
"We will deliver more NRL and elite matches to the country.
"Regaining control of the schedule means we have more scope to take games to the bush. We are going to grow the game and that means taking the game to regional areas."
Coffs Harbour has hosted many pre-season matches in the past as well as the two City v Country Origin matches played at C.ex Coffs International Stadium in 2007 and 2013.
With a strong record of supporting rugby league in the past, Coffs Harbour City Council is looking forward to the opportunity of hosting a competition match in the future.
"This is a very exciting prospect for regional areas," a council spokesperson said.
"With the C.ex Coffs International Stadium having up to 1500lux digital television standard lighting we would certainly be able to offer a very good option as a venue for an NRL competition fixture.
"We're looking forward to hearing more of the detail from the NRL."
Country Rugby League chief executive Terry Quinn believes the new broadcast deal will see the annual City-Country Origin fixture scrapped.
While disappointed if that indeed is an outcome of the deal with the Nine Network, he admits Telstra Premiership matches in the bush would be a good promotion for the game.
"If we got four, even six, full-blown competition games that are fully funded by the NRL at no cost to the local clubs, that could work for us," Quinn said.
"As long as we can co-brand it, plus they'd work with clinics in communities while they were out there, not just flying in Friday, play Saturday and go home."