WARATAHS coach Chris Hickey and acting-captain Daniel Halangahu have given a strong indication the team will return to Lismore for trial games.
They praised the local support and hospitality afforded them in what was no more than a 48-hour visit.
More than 3600 people attended the Saturday night match at Oakes Oval, more than exceeding the number needed for Lismore Council, which underwrote the event, to break even.
“We certainly exceeded our target,” the council’s events co-ordinator John Bancroft said.
“There were probably 4000 plus people here when you consider all the kids under nine who got in for free.”
He said the crowd was well behaved with neither police nor security reporting any disturbances.
Mr Hickey, who coached the Ballina Seahorses and Far North Coast Dolphins in theearly 1990s, said he washonoured to bring his team back to the area where he first made his name as a rugby mentor.
“The Far North Coast has a strong connection with the Waratahs, and we intend to continue to build on that relationship,” he said.
“It always feels good to get back here and I am really pleased to be able to bring such a big match to the people of Lismore and the surrounding areas.”
Although Hickey’s Waratahs went down to the Reds in the final minutes, the trip proved a winner.
“Coming to places like Lismore really helps with team bonding. The boys get a good vibe around them and that translates into the team,” he said.
The Waratahs organisation also built links within the community with Wallabies Phil Waugh and Berrick Barnes attending a coaching clinic and dinner on Friday.
Halangahu said Lismore had been ‘very hospitable’.
“Hopefully we can get the same support at our next trial in Orange,” he said.