In a huge boost for rugby league in regional NSW, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have today confirmed they will play their Round 5 NRL fixture at Lavington Sports Ground in Albury against the Canberra Raiders.
The Easter Saturday clash on April 4 will be the first time the region has played host to an official NRL Premiership match, with the border city only previously hosting NRL pre-season trials and a City-Country Origin fixture in 2011.
The announcement that the Club is venturing to regional NSW to host the fixture, follows several star players – Jamie Buhrer, Justin Horo, Jesse Sene-Lefao and Wee Waa’s Jamie Lyon – spending time in Northern NSW earlier this month spreading messages about healthy living, eating and wellbeing in conjunction with running clinics to grow the game in the bush.
An elated Sea Eagles’ CEO, Joe Kelly, said the Club’s connection with regional NSW has never been stronger.
“Originally from Scone (NSW), I know just how vital sport is to everyday life in regional communities and I’m absolutely delighted that we have secured this game for the region. I am sure that seeing NRL stars in action in the country will have a lasting impact, particularly on the next generation of rugby league supporters,” Kelly said.
“We have been working tirelessly with representatives from the Albury community, the NRL and Fox Sports over recent weeks to make this happen, so to officially announce that over the Easter Weekend, the Sea Eagles and Raiders will be in Albury playing for NRL competition points is significant for us in our continued efforts to grow this great game in regional areas.”
“We will be ensuring that we engage with the Albury community in the lead up to the fixture and also across the Easter Weekend. For the Sea eagles, this whole concept is really about connecting with regional NSW, and in this particular case, the Albury community,” CEO Joe Kelly said.
“This is a major coup for Albury and a significant endorsement by the NRL in both Council and the community that we are a premier host of major events,” Albury City Mayor, Kevin Mack said.
“The value of national brand recognition, live broadcasting and the city's reputation as one of the nation's premier regional sporting hosts cannot be understated.”
“We’ve been knocking on the door for an NRL fixture match for a number of years, so we are thrilled to have now secured this match for Albury on Easter Saturday.”
‘‘We are thrilled for our local Rugby League fraternity particularly the Albury Thunder RLFC which has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of League in the region and, off the back of three straight Group 9 premierships can now see some of the fruits of its labour,” Mayor Mack said.
“I strongly urge the community to get behind this event and to purchase tickets as soon as they are on sale.”
The Sea Eagles’ will also be supporting Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) in the lead up and on match day. ASPECT is the largest not-for-profit provider of autism services in Australia. Sea Eagles front-rower Brenton Lawrence, who has a family member with autism is also an ASPECT ambassador, and has asked everyone to get behind the initiative.
“ASPECT is a wonderful organisation which is committed to providing much needed services families affected by autism. From diagnosis and early intervention, to autism-specific schools providing both adolescent and adult specific programs,” Lawrence said.
“I’m really proud that the Club has once again jumped on board to help raise awareness and it’s great that we can take this message of support down to Albury.”
Details on where to purchase tickets for the clash will be released shortly with a local rugby league curtain raiser to be played before the NRL match kicks-off at 5:30pm.
GAME INFO: NRL Round 5
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders
Saturday, April 4 2015
Lavington Sports Ground, Albury
NRL Kick Off: 5.30pm
Tickets: Details on where people can purchase tickets to be released shortly