The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys will play their major 2016 pre-season trial match against the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday 6 February in Bundaberg.
It will be the only trial match between these two teams in Australia before both head overseas to compete in the World Club Series, where the NRL Premiers the Cowboys will meet the Leeds Rhinos on February 22 (Queensland time) and the Broncos will play the Wigan Warriors the previous day.
Queensland Rugby League and the Bundaberg Rugby League Association are hoping for a 12,000 strong crowd, remembering that a 1992 bumper turnout of just over 13,500 attended the last NRL matches held at the venue. Back then 23 years ago, the North Sydney Bears played the Balmain Tigers while the Broncos clashed with the Newcastle Knights in a then Winfield Cup regional double-header.
Both clubs are keen to take the trial game to regional fans where they have recruited a number of players over the years.
The match will start off a busy month for the Cowboys. The Auckland Nines is being held on the same weekend (February 6-7) as the trial match, while less than a week later, the team will fly to England ahead of the match against the Rhinos.
Those Cowboys players – including National Youth competition Players - not travelling to England will contest a series of trial matches against the Cowboys’ three Intrust Super Cup feeder teams, the Townsville Blackhawks, the Cairns-based Northern Pride and the Mackay Cutters. The dates for those matches have not be finalised. The 2016 All Stars match between the Indigenous and World teams will be played on February 13.