St George Illawarra will spend several days in Mudgee in the lead up to next year’s Charity Shield clash against Souths on February 24, giving Dragons fanatics unprecedented access to some of the game’s biggest stars.
Dragons assistant coach Dean Young coincidentally made the announcement on the same day tickets went on sale for St George Illawarra and Souths members, confirming the side will spend at least three days in town as part of their preparation.
Young met with Mid-Western Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy on Wednesday to take a look at the facilities at Glen Willow Sporting Complex and to present the ‘Mudgee Faithful Membership’ pack which includes a cap or beanie, wall flag, can holder, key chain, sticker and lanyard.
Rugby league promotion will be the goal for the Dragons throughout the time they spend in Mudgee next year and Young expects his players to show their faces around town.
“One of the days here will be a full day off for the players.” Young said.
“They won’t just be sitting in their hotel rooms, they’ll be getting out and about, going to coffee shops and seeing what Mudgee has to offer.”
The Dragons, in conjunction with the NRL, signed a two-year deal with Mudgee last month which will see them play four matches at Glen Willow with the Charity Shield match coming first in February.
The partnership shapes to be a driving force for the progression of rugby league in the central west and Kennedy expects fans to travel from far and wide to witness the spectacle.
“We’ve locked this in for the next two years but I hope it’s the next 20 years,” Kennedy said.
“The City-Country game drew more fans from west of Dubbo than east of Mudgee.
“It gives people who have never visited our region a reason to come here.”
Tickets for the Charity Shield match are available to members on Wednesday (Friday to non-members) and Kennedy doesn't expect they’ll last long.
“The grand stand tickets will go in 15 minutes I reckon,” he predicted.
“Those seats are a premium but there will be plenty of room on the hill.”