PARRAMATTA Eels and Newcastle Knights could be heading to a sell-out for their Armidale pre-season showdown next Saturday.
And both NRL teams will be showcasing some of their young players, however Knights coach Wayne Bennett will be missing, UNE media and public relations officer Tina Skipper said.
“Rugby league fans will have the opportunity to watch some of the stars of the future play first class football,” Skipper said.
“Tickets are selling quickly, with over 2000 tickets already sold.
“There has been a lot of interest from both the local region and further afield, including south east Queensland and the North Coast.
“Knights head coach Wayne Bennett is unable to be in Armidale due to his commitment as coach of the NRL All Stars team but the Newcastle Knights will be in good hands with assistant coach Rick Stone guiding them.”
Bennett is playing a number of young players at an “old stamping ground”.
“Armidale and the university hold great memories for me from the many years I helped conduct coaching camps there,” Bennett said.
“It is excellent to see the trial match for the up and coming players between Knights and Parramatta being held in Armidale.
“From the Knights’ perspective it is a team of young players who are looking to impress with performances for future opportunities in our NRL
Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart and some of his coaching staff are arriving early in Armidale to attend Monday’s Walcha Cup Prelude meeting at the Armidale Jockey Club’s racecourse.
“We are really looking forward to coming up to Armidale for our annual pre-season training camp and trial match,” Stuart said.
“It will be my first time in Armidale for many years and I’m looking forward to utilising the university’s extensive facilities.”
Parramatta legends such as Luke Burt and Nathan Cayliss will also be attending the game and there is a good possibility that other Parra “legends” will also be present.
Parramatta players who are not taking to the field for the trial game will be at the free junior rugby league coaching clinic on the Saturday morning.
The clinic runs from 10-11am, followed by a signing session from 11.15-12.15pm.
The Parramatta pre-season training camp will run from next Tuesday to Sunday and has been made possible as part of UNE’s continued partnership with the Parramatta Eels.
This partnership exists to widen the educational opportunities the university offers students from various regions, including Sydney’s western region.
More than 20 per cent of UNE’s students reside in western Sydney.
Coinciding with the Eels’ visit, Channel Seven’s breakfast show Sunrise will be broadcasting the weather from Sport UNE on Friday morning while the Eels are training.
Everyone is welcome to come along to that.
Gates open at noon next Saturday with two quality curtainraisers between the Eels Under 16s and 18s Eels and the Wests Greater Northern Rugby League Academy Yellow and Maroon squads from 1.30pm. The main game kicks off at 5pm.