NRL plans five-match Anzac Day extravaganza

ADRIAN PROSZENKO
Last updated 05:00 08/06/2014
Warriors Anzac
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PATRIOTIC: The Warriors line up for the national anthems before this season's Anzac Day match against the Melbourne Storm.

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The NRL is considering staging five games across Australia and New Zealand back-to-back on Anzac Day to mark the 100th anniversary next year.

The ARLC have begun speaking to stakeolders about a proposal which could result in matches being played in New Zealand, Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and possibly Perth as part of a "Super Saturday" to mark the occasion.

The fixtures would be played one after another, giving footy fans up to 10 hours of continuous game time to view on television.

Under the proposal, the traditional St George Illawarra-Roosters match, which has been played on Anzac Day every year since 2002, would be retained and again be played at Allianz Stadium or the Sydney Cricket Ground.

However, the Melbourne-Warriors game would be abandoned to allow the the latter team to host a game, most likely at Eden Park. The Storm would then host a new opponent at their home ground at AAMI Park.

Another game would be played in Queensland, most probably at Suncorp, while there are also discussions about the prospect of staging a fifth fixture interstate.

NIB Stadium in Perth, the location of Saturday night's clash between South Sydney and the Warriors, has been mooted as a potential venue.

The Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs could be candidates to play in Western Australia given they have both taken games there and have a strong following in the state.

The NRL believes a match there is a way of expanding the game in a region that once had its own league franchise, the Western Reds.

The success of the proposal could ultimately be decided by the host broadcasters.

The Nine Network normally screen two Friday night matches and one on Sunday, with Fox Sports' allotment played on Saturday and Monday. Nine would have to agree to broadcasting just one Friday night match for the round, while Fox may need to forgo a Monday night slot to make the idea a reality.

Rugby league is a proven crowd-puller on Anzac Day.

A crowd of 40,752 watched the Roosters' 34-14 win over the Dragons, while 25,480 were at AAMI park when the Warriors beat the Storm 16-10. Previous encounters also drew big attendances.

The ARLC is keen to hold a big event to mark 100 years since the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops during World War I. Officials investigated the feasibility of the trans-Tasman rivals playing a test at Gallipoli, but logistically it wasn't possible.

Another idea explored was the formation of a team comprised of the two nation's best players, but the lack of a quality opponent was just one stumbling block which proved insurmountable.

The NRL will liaise with clubs, venues and other stakeholders in coming months in an attempt to make their latest proposal work.

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- Sun-Herald

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