Raiders eye a piece of Thursday night action

IT HAS worked a treat in the NFL; now Canberra want to bring Thursday night football to the capital early next season.

The Raiders are poised to submit an application to play a round three home match in the new time slot as part of the NRL's new broadcast agreement with Channel Nine. Canberra matches struggle to receive free-to-air coverage, and the move would help the club boost its air time on the nationwide network.

The NRL kick-started this season with a Thursday night clash between Newcastle and St George Illawarra, and its success has convinced the league to schedule a Thursday game in the first four rounds next year.

''We're looking at round three Thursday night, they haven't got that one filled yet,'' Raiders boss Don Furner said on Friday.

''I reckon Thursday night might work because Monday night has, and especially if we get a match early in the year when it's still warm. It breaks up the week, you've only got the Friday after it to get through work. We have to put our requests in, they've allocated the first two Thursday night games so we might put an allocation in for that [round three].''

The NFL has scheduled up to eight Thursday night games a year since 2006, and the concept has been embraced by fans in the US. It is understood the Dragons, the traditional biggest drawcard in Canberra, are the Raiders' preferred round three opponent.

The Raiders' planned pre-season trial against the Storm in Bega looks set for the scrap heap because of Melbourne's World Club Challenge commitments.

The Bega trial is scheduled for February 13, a week before the premiers are due to play Super League champions Leeds in England. The Storm want to lock in a warm-up game in England before playing the Rhinos, and Furner confirmed Canberra was now looking at alternatives. ''It definitely won't be the Storm, I spoke to their CEO [Ron Gauci] about that [on Thursday], it's just too hard for them [to play in Bega],'' he said.

This story Raiders eye a piece of Thursday night action first appeared on WA Today.