Queensland Country Bank Stadium will roll out the green carpet for the start of the NRL season this weekend, following a full field renovation over the summer months.
A crowd of about 17,000 is expected for the match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St. George-Illawarra Dragons tomorrow (Saturday 20 March).
Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the match would energise the North.
“Fans have been counting down the days to the NRL’s return and I know the Cowboys will be keen to impress this weekend,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Footy is much more than a game, it provides a great opportunity for families and friends to get together and explore the North.
“Every time an elite NRL Premiership match is on the paddock, they’re supporting at least 650 stadium jobs.
“NRL matches at the world-class Queensland Country Bank Stadium bring visitors to Townsville and this weekend they’re expected to deliver $1 million for the region’s economic recovery.
“The Cowboys and the Dragons are a great excuse for a North Queensland weekend getaway.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said he was excited to have the Cowboys back at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
“I’m backing the North Queensland Cowboys to have a great year under new coach Todd Payten and I know Townsville and North Queensland will back them too,” he said.
“North Queenslanders are passionate about rugby league and it will be great to have big crowds back at Queensland Country Bank Stadium to see the Cowboys just weeks after the stadium was packed for the NRL All Stars.
“I’ll be there in the eastern stands with my wife cheering the team on against the Dragons too.”
Queensland Country Bank Stadium Manager Tom Kimball said the stadium team was looking forward to hosting the NRL without capacity restrictions.
“This will be the Cowboys’ first opportunity to run out on field since COVID without capacity restrictions in the grandstands, so this is Cowboys fans’ chance to fill the house to kick off the season,” Mr Kimball said.
“Of course, we’re still encouraging fans to be COVID-Safe and social distance where possible, maintain good hygiene and stay home if unwell,” he said.
“The response to the NRL All Stars match was just fantastic with around 20,000 passionate fans packing the stadium for an explosive 80 minutes of footy, so it’s clear that fans have missed the sport and are itching to get back and we can’t wait.”
Grounds Manager Bruce Fouracre said the field was in top condition, following a renovation over the summer.
“At the end of the season we had HG Turf come in and shave around 10mm off the surface, and we’ve built it back up with regular aeration and fertilization,” Mr Fouracre said.
“It’s come up really well with the artificial fibres now sitting closer to the surface which improves both the cosmetic appearance and the stability,” he said.
“We upped the fertilizer and nutrients at the start of the year and with the recent heavy rain the turf has really taken off, so after plenty of mowing I’m confident we’ll have a great surface this weekend,”
Gates open at 4:30pm, with kick-off at 6:35pm.
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