THE St George Illawarra Dragons have become the second NRL club to sign a multi-year deal with a Central West centre, agreeing to play NRL matches in Mudgee in 2018 and 2019.
The date and opponent for the 2018 home game in Mudgee will be confirmed once the NRL draw is released later this month.
The deal with Mid-West Regional Council will also see the Dragons play their traditional Charity Shield clashes against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Stadium in 2018 and 2019.
The 2018 Charity Shield match will take place on Saturday, February 24.
The Dragons’ deal follows Penrith Panthers’ contract with Bathurst Regional Council to play one NRL match a year until 2028 at Carrington Park.
More NRL deals with regional centres are tipped to follow as the league continues to explore ways of promoting the sport in the bush.
Mid-Western Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy said the agreement between Mudgee and the Dragons was a neat fit.
"The St George-Illawarra Dragons are a natural fit with Mudgee given that our Group 10 side are the Mudgee Dragons,” he said.
“This two-year partnership and the respective four games will be well supported by our local and wider regional community.”
Dragons chairman Brian Johnston said the Dragons’ partnership with Mudgee would help boost the long-term prosperity of country rugby league.
“The Dragons have a large and avid supporter base across all regional markets, in particular the Central West,” Mr Johnston said.
“The opportunity to form a partnership with the Mid-Western Regional Council to play games in Mudgee ensures the Dragons play a leading role in the continued development of rugby league in the bush, and will enable us to further develop our brand in this important region.”