Newcastle unlikely to host another Test until 2014

NEWCASTLE will not host the rugby league international between Australia and New Zealand at Hunter Stadium in October despite attracting a ground-record crowd of 32,890 for the corresponding trans-Tasman Test match last year.

National Rugby League commercial and marketing director Paul Kind said the game on October 14 would be played in Perth or Townsville but Newcastle was being considered to host a Four Nations Test match in 2014.

‘‘Newcastle isn’t under consideration, so where we’re up to at the moment is we’re looking at either Townsville or Perth,’’ Kind said yesterday.

‘‘I think we’ve absolutely got to continue to play major matches in Newcastle but I think both those other markets we’re looking at have got real value for us this year.’’

Australia won 42-6 in Darren Lockyer’s final game on Australian soil when Newcastle hosted the trans-Tasman Test match on October 16 last year. That was one of several major international sporting events Nathan Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group staged in Newcastle last year.

‘‘Under current consideration, the next major Test matches won’t be until the 2014 Four Nations tournament ... and there will certainly be a recommendation for Newcastle to host one of those matches when that rolls around,’’ Kind said.

A Four Nations tournament will not be held at the end of this season and the World Cup will be played in England, Wales, Ireland and France at the end of next year.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said the club would have welcomed the chance to host another international in October but were concentrating on the NRL season.

The ground record set last October could be eclipsed as early as next Thursday when the Knights host the Dragons in the first game of the NRL season. Fewer than 8000 tickets are available.

‘‘We haven’t spoken about it with the NRL but certainly on the back of last year, it was really successful for us, being a sell-out,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘For us, the game last year was a good opportunity to show that we can host an international event there and we can certainly draw a sell-out crowd, because our community supports those type of events.

‘‘It showcased our new stadium ... and we were rewarded with the NRL opener this year on the back of that but at this stage, we haven’t discussed having the Test match again this year and obviously our focus is on next Thursday and getting ready for that and the rest of the season.’’

Acting Hunter Venues chief executive Luke Coleman said his organisation had not been approached by the NRL to host the Test but he was confident another game in Newcastle would have been received well after last year’s success.

NRL chief executive David Gallop said the day after the Test last year that he was delighted with the response from Novocastrians.

Apart from the 2014 Four Nations, it is understood Hunter Stadium will be considered as a venue for the annual pre-season All Stars match once the NRL’s agreement with the Queensland government expires after next year’s game at Skilled Park, on the Gold Coast.

Coleman said Hunter Venues was no closer to signing a new naming-rights sponsor for Hunter Stadium.

● Hunter Venues said yesterday that only pre-paid parking would be available at Knights home games, starting with the game against the Dragons next Thursday.

Parking tickets will be available at PROticket outlets or at www.proticket.com.au.

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