MELBOURNE Storm wants to play another match on the Border but it’s unlikely to be next year.
Albury Council is desperate to secure an NRL match to complement the 2013 Albury Gold Cup, but Storm’s participation in that game, or a pre-season trial, appears unlikely.
Storm’s development general manager and Victorian Rugby League chairman Greg Brentnall said the club was likely to return in 2014.
“We’ve certainly got plans of coming back there,” Brentnall said.
“I don’t think it will be next year; we’ve got an arrangement with Canberra where one year we go where they want and then it swaps the next year.
“Certainly in 2014 there will be something around there.”
Despite the latest setback, council’s events team leader Ros Walls said she hadn’t given up hope of bringing a game to Lavington Oval in 2013.
The council’s aim is for a premiership match for points the day after next year’s Gold Cup, which will be held on March 21 and 22.
The council wants to capitalise on the large influx of visitors to the Border for the Gold Cup, which this year attracted more than 17,000 people.
Rugby league is growing in popularity in the region, with the Storm attracting more than 6500 fans to its trial against Raiders at Lavington Oval in February, while more than 8000 attended last year’s City-Country Origin match.
The Origin game in particular was a significant financial boost to local coffers, with an estimated $2 million pumped into the economy.
Brentnall said the Border was a strategic zone for the club.
“The trial in February was enormous,” Brentnall said.
“The roll-up and the enthusiasm generated from the game were tremendous and had lasting effects.”
The Border’s own league club, Albury Thunder, is hopeful of becoming a feeder club for the Storm.
It wants to develop a NSW Cup team that would feed players to the Melbourne club.