WHEN Bathurst last hosted the Koori Knockout, George Rose was watching on from Sydney.
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The Bathurst Penguins junior had just finished the captain's run on a Saturday morning, the day before his Manly Sea Eagles would take on New Zealand Warriors in the 2011 NRL grand final.
But the thought of the big decider was far from his mind.
The only thing he was worried about was getting to the nearest television to watch Walgett Aboriginal Connection (WAC), who were taking on Griffith Threeways in the opening round of the Koori Knockout in Bathurst.
Unfortunately for Rose, WAC suffered a first round exit from the competition.
"There was a good chance I smashed my TV. I was filthy," Rose recalled with a laugh.
"The knockout means a lot to us.
"Even though I had the NRL grand final coming up, I was absolutely shattered. Luckily we won the next day and I got an NRL premiership instead."
That had been the only time the Koori Knockout had come to Rose's hometown.
But next year it will return after WAC confirmed on Thursday Bathurst had been awarded hosting rights for 2024.
The Kelso High Campus graduate, who also played for Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons throughout a 12-season NRL career, said it would be amazing if WAC could go back-to-back in his hometown.
"It would be massive," he said.
"To go back-to-back is really difficult, especially when you've got to host it and then also go through the rigours of putting a team together.
"If we could get the win, I'd be absolutely stoked."
Rose, who played a season of Group 10 first grade in the Oberon Tigers in 2016, said the Koori Knockout will be a massive occasion for Bathurst, which will be held on the October long weekend.
"It'll inject millions of dollars into the economy, that's for sure," she said.
"Everybody's coming here to enjoy the footy, to spend money and to enjoy everything that Bathurst has to offer as well.
"It's also an opportunity for anyone who wants to enjoy a different style of footy, but a very entertaining style of footy.
"All locals are welcome to come enjoy the footy. There's NRL guys playing, up against the people you see on the weekend play for Bathurst Panthers, Bathurst St Pat's and you might even have a few guys from the Bathurst Bulldogs floating around."
While the ground venues aren't confirmed, Rose indicated that organisers want to make use of the six football fields on Hereford Street.
"When you've got 140 teams coming through, you need fields able to host a large amount of games," he said.
"That's our aim, to use those facilities at Hereford Street and pump out the footy all weekend."
Bathurst was announced as the host of the 2024 Koori Knockout on Thursday, November 16.
WAC, the winners of the 2023 edition, has the right to determine the host of the 2024 tournament and approached Bathurst Regional Council about bringing it to the city.
WAC had also been in conversation with Dubbo Regional Council and Wagga Wagga City Council.
"We knew that we were one of three options," Bathurst mayor Jess Jennings said.
"I made it really clear to them that I wanted this in Bathurst and we had to do some serious negotiations on both sides.
"They came to the party in a big way, so we went for it."
The Koori Knockout is expected to provide a $6 million injection into the Bathurst economy.
More than 150 teams are expected to attend next year's edition, while 30,000 spectators turned up to this year's event in Tuggerah on the Central Coast last month.
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