Greg Dowling, CEO of the Northern Pride Rugby League Football Club, is expecting a sea of Red & Green at Barlow Park when the Rabbitohs line up against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Despite the fixture taking place in Cairns – a traditionally Cowboys supporting region – Dowling believes the Rabbitohs commitment to the region over the past four years has swayed support towards the South Sydney based team.
“The support up here, rugby league wise, is great. They get 16,000 to a game but it’s not 16,000 Cowboys fans like you’d expect. That in itself is marked as a plus for South Sydney and it would be great to see them play here over the next couple of years,” said Dowling.
Although the Northern Pride have an association with the North Queensland Cowboys, Dowling is grateful for the Rabbitohs’ efforts in bringing an NRL fixture to Cairns. As an annual event, Dowling says it’s helping shape grassroots football in the Cairns district.
“That’s the spectacle of the game, the Cowboys will have a few of our affiliated players in there and players who have come through here, it just gets the kids interested in playing rugby league and they want to become a South Sydney player or a Cowboys player – hopefully through us first,” said Dowling.
Taking a home game to Tropical North Queensland is a move that the Pride CEO says has paid off for the Rabbitohs and he’s glad to see the success in what he believes was a ‘bold’ move.
“I’ve got to thank Souths for doing this. It’s a bold move for a Club in Sydney to come up to North Queensland and play,” continued Dowling.
“It has proven successful over the last five years and they’ve gained a lot of Membership.”
Barlow Park will play host to the July 16 clash and Dowling is excited for the opportunity to showcase the sporting facilities that Cairns has in place.
“Cairns is now on the world map as sporting facilities are concerned; we had the under 20 American women’s soccer team out here last year, Ghana before the World Cup, other sides from the Commonwealth games to acclimatise,”
“At this time of the year it’s not a bad part of the world.”