THERE is a new push to ensure the Tamworth region hosts an NRL club should the deputy premier's bold plan for the league get off the ground.
Deputy premier John Barilaro wants to see the National Rugby League continue with sides based in regional NSW, and he's got the backing of his Nationals' team mate.
The season's future is under a cloud of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions but behind the scenes Mr Barilaro is enacting a plan to have the clubs all based in NSW, so they won't be constrained by state border quarantine restrictions.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said should the competition go ahead in NSW, he wants to see an interstate club based at Lake Keepit.
"There's a lot of discussion around the NRL at the moment," Mr Anderson told the Leader.
"First and foremost, whether any kind of sport can continue will be decided under a public health order.
"If and when we get the green light to go ahead, we will certainly be part of the mix in my view, as part of a regional-approach to housing one or two teams if that's the case."
Mr Barilaro has flagged the 11 state-government operated sports and regional centres, which includes Lake Keepit, as potential hubs for the Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys, New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm to operate out of.
The state government has confirmed it has received a request from the NRL for the Warriors to use its Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre at Lennox Head.
"We've got the facilities, we've got the grounds, we've got the accommodations, so if they want to base themselves in regional NSW, I can't think of a better place than Tamworth and our surrounds to do that," Mr Anderson said.
"Under the public health order, if the NRL is allowed to resume their games, we will certainly be throwing our hat in the ring as a region and saying 'what part can we play'."
Mr Anderson said he was in regular contact with NRL boss Peter V'landys, as part of his role as NSW Racing Minister.
"Mr V'landys is the head of Racing NSW and the NRL, so I have had many discussions with him about what we are doing with racing and certainly he has got his view on the NRL as well," he said.
"I think we have the social distancing aspect, we've got the grounds, we've got the facilities and we've got the opportunity for them to maintain that social distancing.
"Should they choose to come to NSW, I want to put us at the front of the queue, if that's the case."