Townsville’s 1300SMILES Stadium has today been confirmed as the venue for the Under 16 and Under 18 National Finals between the Queensland and New South Wales champions on Saturday 17 May.
The matches were originally pencilled in to be played at Bishop Park in Brisbane, but following the results from last weekend’s state finals which saw two northern teams win their respective state finals, the Queensland Rugby League has settled on Townsville.
“With the Northern Pride and Townsville Stingers qualifying for these two prestigious matches, it makes sense to play them in North Queensland,” QRL managing director Robert Moore said today.
“It’s a great fit for the game and a perfect opportunity to profile top level rugby league in the north.”
The national finals will be played as curtain raisers to the NYC and NRL games between the North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters.
Gates will open at 1.30pm, with the under-16s final kicking off at 1.45pm, followed by the under-18s final commencing at 3.20pm.
The NYC game between the Cowboys and Roosters starts at 5.15pm and the main game between North Queensland and the defending premiers is at 7.30pm.
Moore praised the Cowboys for their proactive approach.
“The Cowboys recognised early on that there was a wonderful opportunity to bring the games to Townsville to showcase some of the country’s best young talent in front of their passionate northern fans,” Moore said.
“We can’t thank them enough for getting on the front foot and making their facilities available.
"It’s also important that we recognise the early assistance of the Norths Devils, who were preparing to accommodate these matches as well.”
Cowboys general manager of football Peter Parr said his club was thrilled with the way “everyone worked together”.
“It’s a great result for the region to have two North Queensland teams on the big stage before an NRL game,” Parr said.
“Our club is proud to be able to play a part in bringing it together.”
The staging of the national finals in Townsville follows on from last weekend’s successful event in Cairns which saw the Cyril Connell Cup and Mal Meninga Cup state finals played before the Rivalry Round match between the Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters.
Queensland Under 16 champions the Northern Pride will play the winner of the Harold Matthews Cup final between the Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers.
Townsville Stingers will meet the winner of the SG Ball Cup match between the Sydney Roosters and Penrith Panthers.
Both of the NSW matches will be played this Saturday at Leichhardt Oval.