Mudgee mayor Des Kennedy said he is disappointed NRL players including Gulgong’s Josh Jackson have been blocked from playing in Sunday’s City-Country origin match but still expects it to be a quality event.
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Mr Kennedy said some NRL coaches had a poor attitude towards the City versus Country concept, which will be scrapped after Sunday.
However he doesn’t expect that to stop people from pouring through the gates on Sunday afternoon and enjoying a great match.
“The teams selected are full of good players but Mid-Western Regional Council had to tender to get the game and we did so on the understanding that it would be the strongest possible teams,” Mr Kennedy said.
“Then 10 days out from the contest you have coaches coming out and saying their players can’t be picked.
“The sport’s governing body used Josh Jackson for the posters but then he’s not even in with a chance of being selected. It’s bloody disgraceful.
Mr Kennedy said he though the NRL should have more power to ensure the best players were selected and a game that is being shown in a regional area is the best possible spectacle.
“Don’t get me wrong, if I was a coach I’d be doing exactly the same thing, trying to protect my players from injury but on the other side of things, it’s pretty disappointing,” he said.
“But we have sold a heap of tickets, the weather is looking good and the town is fantastic.”
Mr Kennedy said the match at Glen Willow was an invaluable promotion tool for the region that would bring new faces to town and show them everything Mudgee had to offer.
“The greatest thing is that accommodation sold out six or eight weeks ago so there are so many people coming into town for it and they will inject a lot of money into the local economy.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are coming from Armidale, Wagga, Sydney or Canberra, they may not have been to Mudgee before and events like this are a great way to get them here and show them what Mudgee has to offer.”
The prestigious Gooree Cup race meeting has shifted from its traditional Sunday fixture to Saturday to make it a blockbuster weekend for the town.
With the City-Country fixture no longer available, Mr Kennedy said Mudgee would be eager to host another NRL game in the future.
“I think the NRL has to do something to help the regions. I don’t know, but if I had to guess I’d say 30 per cent of NRL players are from the country,” he said.
“Next year there will be four games available and hopefully eight the year after that so we will throw our hat in the ring for those.”
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