Tim Smith looks to pass the ball in the NRL trial match at Ballina between Parramatta and Melbourne Storm in 2006.
Tim Smith looks to pass the ball in the NRL trial match at Ballina between Parramatta and Melbourne Storm in 2006.

NRL clubs should pay for country

NATIONAL Rugby League clubs should not only play more pre-season trial games in country areas but fork out half the cost, according to two Australian league greats.

Former Manly hooker, Max Krilich and Parramatta legend, Ray Price, put aside their long-standing inter-club rivalries to pack in on this issue.

The pair, who both retired from the game in the 1980s, were guest speakers at a Sportspersons’ Dinner held at the Ballina Seagulls Rugby League Football Club last Saturday night.

Price, a dual international, said there were great players in country areas and NRL clubs should be doing what they could to reach out to them.

“I don’t care what it costs them,” he said. “All clubs think about themselves. They (clubs) need to support the country more than the NRL are. If you want NRL sides to come to the country, it’s got to be half and half.”

President of the Ballina Seagulls RLFC, Phil Walkley, said it cost the Seagulls $30,000, plus expenses, to put on an NRL pre-season game in 2006 when Ballina hosted Parramatta and the Storm, and Parramatta and Cronulla a few years before.

With accommodation, the total cost of hosting the clubs, he said, was as much as $45,000.

And the only way the Ballina club could recoup those costs was through gate takings and from canteen sales.

“You’re never going to get that kind of money from canteen sales,” he said.

He said there wouldn’t be any country club that could afford to host NRL pre-season games each year. But if the NRL clubs were to pay half the costs, he said ‘it would make it doable’.

He said having top clubs, and their star players, in country areas did a lot to promote rugby league.

“It would take rugby league to a whole new level,” he said.

“The game hasn’t got the general appeal with the public as it used to as there are so many different types of sport available.”



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