Dunedin turnout disappoints Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle

Warriors fans look on before the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors at Forsyth Barr Stadium in ...
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Warriors fans look on before the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Bulldogs boss Raelene Castle is disappointed with the turnout for Dunedin's first NRL fixture but isn't about to ditch their venture into the deep south of New Zealand just yet.

The Sydney-based Bulldogs opted to bring one of their home games to Dunedin on Friday night when they beat the Warriors 24-12 under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The Warriors have previously played NRL preseason games in Dunedin, and a Four Nations fixture between the Kiwis and England has been held there.

Bulldogs players celebrate after scoring a try during the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors at ...
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Bulldogs players celebrate after scoring a try during the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Friday night, however, was the first time two NRL competition points went on the line in Dunedin.

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The round three fixture drew a crowd of just over 10,000 people, well below what Bulldogs officials had hoped they might get.

Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle wasn't thrilled with the turnout in Dunedin.
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Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle wasn't thrilled with the turnout in Dunedin.

"We certainly would have liked a few more people," Castle said.

The deal to bring an NRL game to Dunedin came together through a partnership between the Bulldogs and Dunedin Venues Management Limited.

Castle said DVML had put together a good deal commercially for the Bulldogs to bring a game to Dunedin.

Marcelo Montoya of the Bulldogs takes a ball from Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors during the NRL game in Dunedin.
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Marcelo Montoya of the Bulldogs takes a ball from Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors during the NRL game in Dunedin.

While the 10,000 crowd was down on what they had hoped for, Castle was keen to stretch the Bulldogs-Dunedin relationship past the first year.

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With each of the nine Sydney clubs having 12 home games a season, most clubs look to other commercial options for some of their home fixtures.

Castle said while they had hoped for more 10,000 people for the game in Dunedin, she added if the Bulldogs-Warriors game was played in Sydney they probably wouldn't have got many more.

Forsyth Barr Stadium before the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors.
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Forsyth Barr Stadium before the round three NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Warriors.

The former Netball New Zealand chief executive was confident if they could strike deal with DVML to return next year they could get a much bigger crowd.

Dunedin has had a busy time of late in regard to sporting events with a cricket test between New Zealand and South Africa held in the city and also two Highlanders Super Rugby games in Dunedin to start the 2017 season.

Castle felt that, along with Friday being St Patrick's Day, which may have kept some of the students away, had affected the crowd number.

The fact the Bulldogs won also made it more appealing to return in the future, Castle said.

Meanwhile, big Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei looks set for another stint on the sidelines after he reaggravated a knee injury in the loss to the Bulldogs.

Vatuvei was forced from the field 13 minutes into the second half, creating a back line reshuffle.

Coach Stephen Kearney was unsure just how long the veteran winger may now spend on the sidelines.

"He has reinjured his knee, in terms of how long that might be we are not sure. 

"It didn't quite feel right coming after halftime so it was advisable that we pull him off."

While Vatuvei is unlikely to be in the mix for the Warriors next game against the Dragons in Sydney next weekend Kearney boys are in for a potential boost with the possible introduction of Kieran Foran to the mix, and the possible return of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from concussion.

Foran is recovering from a shoulder surgery and is understood to have had a fitness test in Dunedin on Thursday morning.

Whether the two playmakers are in line for the Dragons fixture will become a little clearer on Tuesday when Kearney names a squad for Sydney trip.

In the meantime, he is giving little away.

"We've got to name 21 players on Tuesday afternoon so that will probably give you a good indication whether they will be there.

"At this stage, I couldn't tell you. We'll have to have a real good look at them next week."

Any help will much appreciated for the Warriors given their first three games of the NRL season have been in New Zealand and they have managed just one win - a start which has again left the Warriors faithful more than frustrated. 

 - Stuff

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