THE Canberra Raiders will return to their spiritual home next year when they take on the Newcastle Knights in a pre-season trial match at Queanbeyan's Seiffert Oval on February 21.
The boost for the birthplace of the region's local NRL club comes after Council endorsed the proposal from the club at its ordinary meeting on Wednesday night, and coincides with planned $1 million upgrades to the venue for the next financial year.
Canberra Raiders marketing manager Jason Mathie told The Queanbeyan Age that the Raiders were excited about the opportunity to return to Seiffert Oval and would turn the event into an array of festivities for the city as well.
"We're planning on running a number of activities around the whole day which we will confirm and inform the public of closer to the game," he said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to have an extra game in the region and show support for all the people who come out and follow us all year."
Many great Raiders players have come from the club's Queanbeyan heartland over its 32-year existence, including current coach Ricky Stuart and captain Terry Campese. Both men have also represented NSW in State of Origin and the Kangaroos in international competition.
Raiders' media manager Ben Pollack said the Seiffert Oval fixture will prove a great opportunity for these men among other young Queanbeyan players to return to where they grew up in the sport.
"A lot of the guys in the junior system for the Raiders and even a few first grade players came through the local competition, so to be able to play a game where you've played your junior football is very exciting for them," he said.
Host organisations of NRL trial matches are responsible for associated costs of running the event, and Queanbeyan Council estimates that they will spend between $40,000 and $45,000 to run the event, but are confident that costs will be recouped in ticket sales and sponsorship.
Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall said the event would be rewarding for the passionate support of the Raiders still present in the city.
"Seiffert Oval was the Canberra Raiders' first home ground when they entered the then NSW Rugby League premiership in 1982...the Queanbeyan community still has a strong attachment to the Raiders and this will be a great event," he said.