It will be the first NRL game to be played at the venue, with the Canterbury Bulldogs making the decision to take their Rd 16 clash with the Melbourne Storm, to Virgin Australia Stadium, in Mackay. 

The match is scheduled for the 24th June at 2pm, which is a Sunday afternoon – will be the first game that the Bulldogs have played in the Central Queensland city, which is the home-town of live-wire fullback, Ben Barba.

The move comes after the Bulldogs discussions with South Australian Tourism, the South Australian Government, the South Australian Cricket Association and Adelaide Oval to host this very game at the venue, like they have in years past, broke down.

“As a Club we are very excited to bring this match to Mackay and Virgin Australia Stadium,” Bulldogs Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said.

“The Stadium, Council, Rugby League Community and Mackay Tourism were all very keen to bring the Bulldogs and Storm to central Queensland and we’re looking forward to getting there

“Since 2010 we have committed to taking two home games away from ANZ Stadium and to Bulldogs fans outside of our traditional heartland and Mackay aligns nicely to that strategy.

“We know that 10 percent of our supporter base lives in Queensland and this match will give those people a bit further north of Brisbane and the south east the opportunity to see the Bulldogs live.”

Greg Sutherland, the Chairman of Virgin Australia Stadium, says that the game is a big boost for the local community, and one that they will embrace with open arms.

“This is a major event for the Mackay Region and the Stadium Committee is appreciative of the confidence invested in us by the Bulldogs and the NRL,” Mr Sutherland said.

“They are bringing the game to the people and this is Mackay’s 150th year of European settlement and will add greatly to our celebrations. The Australian Government can also take credit for the game coming to a regional area as they provided the majority of funding for the new rectangle shaped complex.

“We will work with sporting clubs community groups and charities to ensure there are sufficient outlets for food and drink outlets and we have already looked at additional seating arrangements.

“This game will prove a big buzz for the region.”

For Barba, the prospect of returning home to play football, is something that he is relishing.

“I last played a game at home when I was 18, before I moved down to Sydney, so I’m really looking forward to being part of the match against the Storm in June,” Barba says.

“I was always keen to see the Bulldogs play a game in Mackay, but I’ve got to say I was expecting it to be a trial at some point in the future. To be playing a game for competition points makes it extra appealing.

“To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement, and my family is really looking forward to it as well. My Dad’s already been on the phone talking about it.

“Between my family and Dane Nielsen’s, who also comes from Mackay, I reckon we’ll have no problem filling the Stadium for the game itself. And when you consider that Billy Slater’s from a few hours up the road as well, so there’s going to be plenty of local flavour to the match.”


By ricky

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