The NRL’s governing body has revealed a number of Sunday blockbusters ahead of the release of the 2016 season draw.
Sam Burgess’ return to the NRL will kick off against arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters in front of a potential sell-out Sunday afternoon crowd at Allianz Stadium on March 6.
The NRL’s decision to hold a number of Sunday afternoon blockbusters in Sydney, scheduled for the family-friendly 4pm timeslot, is all in a bid to boost crowd numbers.
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“We have certainly made an effort to ensure that some of our best match-ups and blockbusters are in family-friendly timeslots,” Greenberg said.
“Whilst I don’t want to give too much away, we will have a number of strong Sydney derbies on Sundays through the opening rounds of the Telstra Premiership.”
The southern derby of the Sharks and Dragons will headline the second round, while the Dragons will take Souths to the SCG in round three and host Penrith in round four.
Finally, the battle of the west will play out as Parramatta host Penrith in round five.
Crowd figures dropped to an average of 15,074 last season, their lowest figure since 2004.
On average, they dropped more than 800 fans per match on 2014, and were almost 1500 fans down than in 2005 on average.
Sydney clubs particularly struggled, with the Wests Tigers, Manly, Penrith and Cronulla all failing to average above 12,000 people per match.
Elsewhere, the Eels will reportedly host Brisbane in the first Thursday night match of the season, while the Cowboys look set to begin their premiership defence on a Saturday night to appease their regional supporter base.