Casino coup with Tomahawks on the warpath
By IAN MONAGHAN
THE United States is turning rugby league into a full-scale invasion of the Northern Rivers.
Hot on the heels of news that the fledgling American national team is to play the Tweed Heads Seagulls at Oakes Oval, Lismore, comes the plan for the Tomahawks to take on the Casino Cougars at Casino on February 2.
In what is being rightly regarded as a coup for not just rugby league, but Casino in general, the US will not only play at Queen Elizabeth Park, but stay in the town for three nights preceding the match.
Arrangements for accommodating the Americans were made by the Cougars' long-time major sponsor, the Casino RSM Club.
Officials cannot remember an international team playing there in the past.
"The initial plan was to get them to visit Casino in the lead-up to the Lismore match ... do a few visits to schools," an elated Casino rugby league club committeeman Dale Caldwell said.
Not one to shirk an opportunity, Caldwell, along with fellow committee member Brad Birney, contacted the Tomahawks through their website.
"They not only agreed to promotional events, like coaching clinics, but mentioned they wanted another game," Caldwell said.
"It's a big boost for us as a club. We were cellar-dwellers last year and this is a great chance for us."
Casino has already signed former NRL player Cavill Heugh as coach for 2005, while negotiations continue with at least one other high-profile Group One player.
After the Wednesday night match against Casino, the US Tomahawks will meet Tweed Seagulls at Oakes Oval, Lismore on Saturday, February 5.
The Lismore game is a curtain-raiser to the NRL trial between Parramatta and Cronulla.