THE annual pre-season Charity Shield will be just one of a number of games taken to regional areas in 2018, the NRL has announced.
The game’s governing body confirmed on Thursday that premiership matches will be held in Mudgee, Tamworth, Bathurst, Gosford, Gladstone, Toowoomba and Cairns.
Gold Coast Titans will take two matches to regional centres (Gladstone and Toowoomba), while South Sydney Rabbitohs will continue to play one of its matches in Cairns.
St George Illawarra Dragons will host a match in Mudgee — which will also be the venue for the annual pre-season Charity Shield match against the Rabbitohs.
Wests Tigers will host a match in Tamworth, Penrith Panthers will play in Bathurst, while both Sydney Roosters and South Sydney will take matches to Gosford.
It will be the most number of regional areas to host NRL games in premiership history.
“We have said for some time it was our strong desire to take more games to regional venues in 2018, and we’re extremely happy to have been able to do that as part of the new schedule,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
“I want to thank the clubs involved for working with us on delivering this positive result for the game in regional areas, but also the local councils, community groups and our government partners for being so enthusiastic about hosting rugby league matches.
“It will be great to see so many people in regional areas being able to witness the best of rugby league up close in 2018.”