ORANGE is all but certain to host a National Rugby Championship (NRC) game after the NSW Country Eagles confirmed they are in talks with Orange City Council.
The inaugural NRC, the newly formed Australian second tier competition, begins in late August and will pit the nation’s premier rugby talent against one another.
While nothing is set in stone, Wade Park is rumoured to be the most likely venue in Orange, while Dubbo City Council is also in talks with the Eagles about hosting a game at Caltex Park.
Eagles general manager James Grant, an Orange local and former Wallaby, said the central west is an obvious choice to host the NSW Country side.
“The central west has always been a rugby heartland so it will be great to bring two of the Eagles matches out here,” he said.
“I’ve got no doubt the region will get behind the match.”
The nine week competition could feature a number of Blowes Clothing Cup stars with several rurally based players pinpointed as potential Eagles, including Orange City flanker Gus Brotherton.
Brotherton didn’t play for Central West this season as he was overseas, but the 2013 Blowes Clothing Cup player of the year is one of several players being considered for a chance to train with the Waratahs prior to the NRC, and vie for an Eagles contract simultaneously.
Eagles coach Darren Coleman confirmed he is also considering Dubbo Kangaroos pair Peter Nau and Filisone Pauta, Parkes’ Dan Ryan and Bathurst Bulldogs’ No.8 Hayden Tidswell.
Having kept a close eye on a number of regional competitions and the progress of the NSW Country Cockatoos, Coleman has no doubts the quintet have the potential to star in the NRC.
“Being a country boy myself, I know how important it is to make that transition from the bush to top level rugby,” he said.
“To see where you are when you come down against professional players, it can only be a benefit for them. There is a lot of talent out there, playing in all different levels of rugby.
“The NRC is going to unearth the next generation of Australian talent and I’d love some of it to come from the bush.”