AT THE DOUBLE: Adam Blair in action for the Broncos against Manly in a double header last season.
AT THE DOUBLE: Adam Blair in action for the Broncos against Manly in a double header last season. Jason O'Brien

More double-headers on way in NRL

THE NRL has used the template from its successful Brisbane double-headers to program three other double-headers in the first 12 rounds of next year's premiership.

In a bid to improve crowds which were the smallest aggregate for any home-and-away season since 2004, double-headers will also be played in Perth, Sydney's ANZ Stadium and Auckland, as well as another May double-header at Suncorp Stadium.

Premiers Melbourne have been selected as drawcards for a round 1 double-header at Perth's new 60,000-seat stadium and also a round 5 event at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium which also features runners-up North Queensland.

The NRL will send the same two match-ups around in Suncorp Stadium's round 12 double-header, with Manly to play the Broncos and the Storm to meet Gold Coast after both non-Queensland clubs sold home games at Queensland interests.

The NRL had previously announced South Sydney and Canterbury would take home matches to the Perth double-header. Yesterday, it was revealed Melbourne's first match in their premiership defence would be against Canterbury, with Souths hosting the Warriors on March 10.

In round 5, a Wests Tigers home game against the Storm has been taken to Auckland on April 7, with the Warriors taking on the Cowboys on the same card.

In their continuing efforts to entice Sydney spectators to travel to ANZ Stadium, there will be a double- header there in round 3, with Souths taking on Manly and Parramatta opposing Cronulla.

The 44,127 crowd for the 2017 Suncorp Stadium double-header was the second biggest home-and-away crowd for the season and in 2016 the biggest attendance other than the grand final, 52,346, rolled up for a match between Manly and Brisbane and one between the Cowboys and the Storm.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the allocation of four double-headers was a direct consequence of the NRL "having more control over the premiership schedule'' at the expiration of an agreement requiring greater consultation with telecast networks.

Paul Malone



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