THE first round of tickets to the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights NRL game in Tamworth have been snapped up in just a few hours and all signs point to a sold-out clash.
The Kiwi team have a strong fan base in Tamworth after the club quarantined in the city for two weeks in May. Since then more than 1000 locals have got behind the side, taking up memberships.
Now those fans will be front and centre to welcome the team back to the city on August 29 after the local Warriors members bought up their ticket allotment on Thursday.
Wests League Club chief executive officer (CEO) Rod Laing said he was confident the game would be a sell-out.
"In the past, Tamworth has been a little bit laid back during pre-sales, but not this time," Mr Laing told the Leader.
"The members exhausted their allocation of tickets within a day and we expect the same thing to happen when tickets become available to Wests members on Friday, and the general public on Saturday.
"I'm confident we will need to put a sold out sign in front of the ground on Saturday."
Capacity at the ground will be capped due to social-distancing measures and entrants must call the New England North West home.
"Basically, we have to conform to having one person per four square metres, so that has brought the total capacity down a bit," Mr Laing said.
"However, we are confident the measures we have in place and the fact entry is restricted to just locals everyone should be kept safe.
"There has been some people express concern that we might be bringing COVID-19 into Tamworth and I just don't see how that can be possible if only locals are allowed to attend."
Warriors CEO Cameron George said the club was eager to put on a good show.
"We've been keeping Tamworth with us by having 2340 on jerseys all year and we are keen to come back to Tamworth and show our appreciation," Mr George said.
"Obviously, the town holds a special place in my heart and in the heart of our entire club.
"To be able to come back and play a game as a thank you to the people of Tamworth will be really special."
Mr George said he was confident the Round 16 clash would not be the end of the Warriors' affiliation with Tamworth.
"Everyone was very welcoming when the club came to quarantine here," he said.
"We'd love nothing more than to continue this partnership into the future.
"The community got right behind us and I know our guys will be doing all they can to pick up a win."