The Penrith Panthers and Bathurst Regional Council will gamble with another winter fixture in the fourth game of their five-year deal to bring an annual National Rugby League match to town.
The details of the Bathurst match were made public when the NRL released its 2017 draw on Thursday.
The Panthers will play Canberra at Carrington Park at 5.30pm on Saturday, June 10 in round 14 of the competition – the second year in a row they have played the Raiders in Bathurst.
The Panthers’ first game of the deal, when they were beaten by the Cronulla Sharks 18-16 in late July 2014, drew a crowd of close to 9000 people, though there was criticism at the time about playing during a Bathurst winter.
The Panthers beat the Gold Coast Titans 40-0 in the second game of the deal on March 14, 2015 in front of a much smaller crowd of just over 6000 people.
The disappointing attendance was blamed on a combination of the game being played very early in the season and the Titans not having a big following locally.
After experimenting with a mid-season game and an early season game, the Panthers and Bathurst Regional Council split the difference this year and brought the match against the Raiders to Carrington Park on April 30.
The crowd was up, but not substantially: around 6700 people were at the ground to see the Panthers win a thriller 19-18.
The return to a winter fixture is likely to raise some eyebrows given the weather in June in the Central Tablelands.
But Bathurst mayor Gary Rush is tipping a big crowd.
“Fans were treated to a sensational game of rugby league in April when the Panthers took on the Raiders at Carrington Park. Both sides have a huge following in the region and I expect the re-match in June next year will attract a bumper crowd,” he said.
There should be no love lost between Canberra and Penrith, who finished second and sixth on the NRL ladder this year respectively.
The Panthers were knocked out of the finals race by the Raiders.