St George Illawarra Dragons chairman Brian Johnston and his club are “excited” for next season, a campaign which will include an NRL clash at Mudgee’s Glen Willow.
Mudgee will be on show during arguably the town’s most picturesque time of year after the NRL draw revealed the Dragons will play the Canberra Raiders on Sunday, May 20.
It’s one of two NRL games in the region that month with Penrith welcoming the North Queensland Cowboys to Bathurst’s Carrington Park on May 4.
The kick-off at Mudgee will be at 2pm, an ideal afternoon time slot which should ensure a bumper crowd at the elite sporting complex.
Couple the scheduling with the talent on show and the Dragons-Raiders clash looks set to kick-off Mudgee’s partnership with St George-Illawarra in style.
The Raiders boast one of the most promising rosters in the NRL – and Group 10 products Jack Wighton and Shannon Boyd – while the Dragons have a throng of internationals.
Gareth Widdop and James Graham are Dragons, while new recruit Ben Hunt is also in the Australian World Cup Squad for this year’s tournament.
Fitness permitting, they’ll all play at Glen Willow in that round 11 clash for two competition points.
Johnston said his club had “worked hard” with the NRL to deliver a draw which would please all involved.
"Add our traditional Anzac Day game against the Roosters – the biggest club game on the NRL calendar each year – and our commitment to bring an NRL game to Mudgee this season, and we are genuinely excited at what next year will bring,” he told the club’s official website.
The Green Machine is no stranger to playing in the Western Rams region, having been the Penrith Panthers’ opponents for the last two Carrington Park fixtures at Bathurst.
The NRL fixture will be the second time in 2018 the Dragons play at Glen Willow, following the Charity Shield clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in February.
Greg Inglis is expected to make his return to the field for Souths during the trials, meaning the gun fullback could line-up alongside the likes of Sam Burgess and Rabbie Farah for the Rabbitohs at Mudgee.
The other is Bathurst due to its ongoing agreement with the Penrith Panthers.
Other regional matches in the 2018 season will be played at Tamworth and Queensland centres Toowoomba, Gladstone and Cairns.
Dubbo and Caltex Park missed out but newly-appointed mayor Ben Shields confirmed last week he would be keen to see a top-flight fixture in the city in the future.