Manly target 2013 for China NRL match
Premiers Manly are fast-tracking plans to play an NRL match against Canberra in China, with hopes it can be scheduled as soon as early 2013.
Originally Manly wanted to move one of their 2014 premiership home games from Brookvale to Shenzhen, about an hour north of Hong Kong, an idea driven by their main backer, IT company Kaspersky, which has a big consumer base in China.
But Canberra boss Don Furner told AAP this week the timing had been brought forward.
“They’ve come back only yesterday and said `we’re keen to do it in 2013′,” he said.
“So it’s going a bit faster than I thought.”
The Raiders are more than willing to get involved to boost their relationship with their own major sponsor, Huawei, which has its head office in Shenzhen, while there are also potential financial flow-ons with merchandising.
Best of all, Furner said: “I’d rather play Manly up there than Brookvale.”
The deal still needs the approval of the NRL, which would allocate byes to the teams the following week, and Fox Sports, which has broadcasting rights, but Canberra believe it could be locked in within several weeks.
It would be the first time the NRL has ventured into China, although Kaspersky was also behind an exhibition AFL match between Melbourne and Brisbane in 2010, which attracted some 7000 people at the 10,000-capacity Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai.
Shenzhen Stadium was built last year and can hold up to 60,000.
“If only a third of Huawei’s employees come to watch, it’ll be a sell-out,” Furner said.© AAP 2013