It is no secret that both the Manly Sea Eagles and the Canberra Raiders have previously discussed the idea of playing an NRL game in China – but that is now close to a reality, with the Sea Eagles fast-tracking plans to play in China, as soon as the 2013 NRL season.
The game was originally slated to be played in 2014 in Shenzhen, a Chinese province located one hour north of Hong Kong – an idea that Manly’s sponsor Kaspersky brought up, given their influence in China.
Canberra Raiders boss David Furner said that the timing of the event, however, had been brought forward.
“They’ve come back only yesterday and said `we’re keen to do it in 2013′,” he said.
“So it’s going a bit faster than I thought.”
The Raiders are keen on the move, given the chance to boost their relationship with main sponsor Huawei, who are based in Shenzhen – as well as the possibility of financial boosts from merchandising.
“I’d rather play Manly up there then Brookvale,” Furner said.
Although the deal is still yet to be approved by the NRL, Canberra are confident that it can all be finalised in the next few weeks.
The game at Shenzhen Stadium would see both Manly and Canberra get byes the following week, given the lengthy travel time, with Fox Sports also yet to approve the proposed game, given they have the broadcasting rights.
“If only a third of Huawei’s employees come to watch, it’ll be a sell-out,” Furner said.