"Dubbo will host a game next year. That's a guarantee."
Rugby league fans in Dubbo and throughout the bush have reason to cheer after it was confirmed on Monday more matches are heading to regional areas.
Dubbo MP and NRL Regional Taskforce chair Dugald Saunders helped confirm the news, joining ARLC chair Peter V'Landys, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and other dignitaries for the major announcement.
Tamworth will host the New Zealand Warriors-Newcastle Knights match later this month and Saunders described it as the "start of a new way forward for rugby league in regional areas".
"We need to look at opportunities for all regional areas," he said.
"Tamworth on August 29 gets to kick-off the new feeling but from next year there's more and more plans to have premiership and pre-season games in regional areas.
"It's an exciting way forward from here."
Saunders gave his guarantee a match would be played in Dubbo next year and said more announcements about specific dates and teams involved are expected in the coming months.
Dubbo Regional Council recently confirmed it had spoken to a number of NRL clubs in regards to hosting a match at Apex Oval.
Council's manager regional events Kim Hague revealed the Canterbury Bulldogs and Cronulla Sharks had responded positively while adding an NRL game could attract between 7000 and 11,000 people to the city.
Council estimated a match at Dubbo could cost $568,000 but Barilaro confirmed on Monday the state government would be willing to help towns and cities financially.
"Sports tourism is so important to regional and rural NSW," the deputy premier said.
"That's why the NSW government is often happy and prepared to financially support bringing teams into the regions because of the actual net benefit to the community.
"You're filling your hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs. It brings tourism but more importantly it showcases the regions long-term and that's a bigger benefit."
The regional taskforce already has an idea of what towns and cities are capable of hosting NRL teams.
Saunders confirmed some would be better positioned to host pre-season fixtures rather than regular season matches with aspects like ground surface, crowd capability, lighting, facilities and change rooms all to be looked at.
"We want to make sure areas get looked after and the game is moving around our state and supporting people who support it so well," he added.
The matter of an NRL game in Dubbo is expected to be discussed further at Monday's night council meeting.
Dubbo hasn't hosted any top-flight rugby league since the 2014 City-Country Origin fixture while Bathurst has an ongoing deal with Penrith to have matches played at Carrington Park until at least 2028.
Mudgee has hosted the past three Charity Shield pre-season matches between St George Illawarra and South Sydney and the annual fixture will be played at Glen Willow again next year.
Tamworth's Scully Park will host the Warriors' clash with the Knights on August 29.
The match will be played there largely as a thank you from the Warriors to Tamworth after the city was home for the New Zealand club when it first arrived in the country during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Warriors are playing this season with the Tamworth postcode of 2340 on their jerseys as another mark of gratitude.