The wine drenched region of Mudgee is alive and pumping ahead of Saturday night’s Charity Shield blockbuster according to the town’s Mayor, Des Kennedy.
Speaking from the town centre, Kennedy was quick to praise the work that both the St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs have done in breathing life back in country Rugby League.
“We built a great big stadium here in 2012 and as a council we’ve been really trying to promote it,” said Cr Kennedy.
“We’ve been lucky enough to get two city country games, we had Parramatta v Gold Coast in 2014. Since then we’ve been really trying to get some nrl games and locking down the Charity Shield for two years is a fantastic announcement for the country here.
“We can’t be anymore grateful to Souths and St George for that matter, Not just the board and CEOs but to the coaches as well. They don’t bring their players out to the bush too often, so we thank them very much and do the very best we can to make sure it’s a good spectacle.”
No doubt the chance to see a host of NRL stars in action has created a buzz around town. Something which Des Kennedy is happy to see.
“It’s massive for Mudgee,” he added. “You can just tell. Even yesterday the shop windows and pubs had with streamers hanging off them. everyone's pretty excited about it all.
“There were a few St. George players around yesterday visiting schools, the Souths boys are here now doing autographs it’s fantastic for junior rugby league.
“Country rugby league’s a battle, y'know. Aussie Rules is chewing away at everything and not many kids play team sports now, they’re too tied up on their laptops and iPads and all that. It’s good to see the NRL promoting rugby league in the country.”
While there’s an aura around town, the atmosphere at Glen Willow Stadium is set to be electric with the ground estimated to be a sellout.
“Crowd wise we’re expecting up to 8000 tickets sold and that was Wednesday afternoon,” he added. “So we’re expecting another 1000 sold today. I’m hoping we get to 10,000 with a bit of luck which will fill the ground.”
As the clock draws nearer to the Charity Shield clash, Cr Kennedy keeps his cards close his chest when quizzed on which team he’ll be barracking for come Saturday night. He laughed: “I’m impartial, how’s that for a politician's answer!”