Fifteen years ago, Super League had a plan to take an NRL game to China, but that never materialised – now, however, both the Canberra Raiders an the Manly Sea Eagles hope they can do just that, by taking an NRL game to Shenzhen, an hour north of Hong Kong, for the 2014 season.
Both clubs held initial talks about the possibility yesterday, to play at Shenzhen Stadium, a newly-built stadium, that is capable of housing 60,000 fans.
It was last month that Kaspersky, the main sponsor of the Sea Eagles, discussed the possibility of taking a trial game to the region – but after discussions took place, Raiders boss Don Furner said that the club would consider taking one of their home games there, during the season.
“They’re keen now on a competition game, not a trial game, if Manly want to do that, we’re fine by it [because], they’ll be easier to beat up there than at Brookvale,” Furner said.
“We’ll go and see Fox Sports with the NRL about the idea, obviously they’ll have more production costs there than in Australia, so there’s those issues covered.”
“All we would [have] to make sure of, is that all of our costs are covered.”
The push for it to be a regular season game, comes as both clubs believe it can work better, with two NRL competition points on the line, full-strength NRL sides, as well as an increased chance of drawing the Chinese locals into the game itself.
“It should get guaranteed coverage on Fox, and it’s a better chance that the Chinese TV will take the broadcast as well,” Furner said.
“For a game that involves so much travel, if both teams could get a bye in April [the week after the match], we’d try and play the game then, because it gets a bit warm up there coming into May and June.”
If the game proves to be a success in 2014, all parties will consider the possibility of making it a yearly event, at Shenzhen.
“If it worked, and the NRL got behind it, we’d have the option of going there again in 2015,” Furner said.