Waratahs and Reds for Lismore
The NSW Waratahs will kick off their 2010 season in Lismore with a game against the Queensland Reds.
The pre-season Super 14 rugby union match is scheduled to be played on Saturday, January 23, at Oakes Oval and Waratahs manager Chris Webb made the trip up to Lismore on Wednesday to announce the fixture.
“We're trying to spread the game around; we're not just the Sydney Waratahs. We were approached by the council and some other people up here and want to get closer to our country supporters... The facilities up here are fantastic for a regional facility,” Mr Webb said.
Mr Webb said the fact that coach Chris Hickey (former Ballina coach) and backs coach Scott Wiseman were from the Northern Rivers might have helped secure the game.
He also said he hoped there would be an opportunity for some of the players to do some skills clinics with local schools as part of the trip.
In 14 seasons of professional Super rugby the Waratahs have earned a reputation as not living up to their good-on-paper reputation. They have made the final only twice, losing both times to New Zealand powerhouse Canterbury.
Last year the Tahs again just missed out on the finals, finishing fifth.
The Queensland Reds have struggled in the last few seasons, changing coaches almost as regularly as football boots.
Last week former NSW coach Ewen McKenzie was announced as the Reds' new coach.
The game in Lismore will be the first time McKenzie faces up against his former side.
Battles between the two arch-rivals have been fierce in the past, with Queensland regularly rising to beat the Tahs, even when they've been languishing way behind them on the Super rugby table.
In 13 meetings NSW has only won four times and drawn once.