The Canberra Raiders will be embracing regional NSW during the 2022 NRL season.
The draw for the 2022 campaign was released on Tuesday morning and it was confirmed the Raiders will play regular season matches at Dubbo, Mudgee, and Wagga.
The Raiders will take on South Sydney at Apex Oval on May 22 next year. The round 11 match will be a 2pm, Sunday kick-off.
The match follows on from the Rabbitohs' clash with eventual premiers Penrith in May of this year.
The Rabbitohs made a two-year agreement with Dubbo and they will be hoping for better fortunes in the battle with the Raiders after a 56-12 drubbing at Apex Oval this year.
The Redfern club's Souths Cares team will again spend time in the Dubbo community in the lead-up to the 2022 fixture.
"We had a great experience at Dubbo this year, and although the result on the day went against us, we are really delighted to be bringing the team and Souths Cares back to Dubbo next season; building on what we've already established," South Sydney CEO Blake Solly said.
"The ground itself is fantastic, the support for Souths Cares' work in the community was remarkable, and we're hoping even more members and fans will come along next year, as we continue to support top level rugby league in regional areas like Dubbo."
More than 10,000 people attended this year's match and Rabbitohs officials have previously said another bumper attendance in 2022 could boost chances of more matches at Dubbo in the future.
The 2022 fixture will again have plenty of star power with the majority of the Rabbitohs' biggest names - outside of Adam Reynolds, Benji Marshall and Dane Gagai - returning next season while the Raiders feature the likes of Orange product Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii, and Jarrod Croker as well as new recruits Jamal Fogarty and Adam Elliott.
Dubbo MP and chair of the NRL Regional Taskforce, Dugald Saunders, welcomed the news of Canberra heading to the western area.
"The main goal I have as chair of the regional taskforce is to continue to attract top level games to regional areas, and I'm sure there's going to be even more excitement about NRL games next year, as we re-build after COVID," he said.
"We had a fantastic crowd of around 10,000 this year, and there are loads of Bunnies fans across the region, with loads more across the state who I know will be keen to travel to Dubbo again. I'm hoping we'll be looking at a capacity of somewhere around 15,000 to create an even better atmosphere in 2022."
The Dubbo match will come after Raiders travel to both Mudgee and Wagga.
The Ricky Stuart-coached Canberra side will play a round four match against Manly Sea Eagles at Mudgee's Glen Willow on Saturday, April 2 while Wagga will host the round five clash between the Raiders and Melbourne Storm on Saturday, April 9.
"We constantly talk about ourselves as the NRL's most regionally focussed team," Raiders chief operating officer Jason Mathie said.
"We've actually got a lot of regional fixtures. We play at Mudgee, Dubbo, we go to Wagga naturally and even regional Queensland - we've got a game against the Warriors [at Redcliffe] and [Wollongong].
"It's nice a lot of Sydney-based clubs choose to take us to the smaller, boutique regional areas, but we love that because we are really pro-active in regional areas."
Premiers Penrith will continue their partnership with Bathurst in 2022. The Panthers will tackle the Newcastle Knights at Carrington Park in round 3 on Saturday, March 26 at 3pm.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: