Players from English Super League teams Wigan Warriors and Hull FC will join St George Illawarra Dragons players and representatives from the world champion Australian Jillaroos in February to share their love of the game with the next generation.
The Best of Both Worlds junior rugby league development day will be held on Thursday, February 8, just two days before Wigan and Hull FC face off at WIN Stadium, Wollongong in the first Super League match for points held outside Europe.
The coaching clinics will be part of a day of community activity by the visiting players as they embrace the opportunity to get among fans and broadly share their love of the game. Wigan Warriors Executive Director Kris Radlinski says both visiting teams are keen to get involved with the Illawarra community in the week leading into the game.
"The Best of Both Worlds promises to be something special. The opportunity for young players to run around the field with their NRL and Super League heroes is something they won’t forget," Radlinski said.
"I know Wigan and Hull FC players take their roles and responsibilities in the community seriously and I am sure the NRL clubs and players share the same values. Playing rugby league for a living is the greatest job in the world and who knows, some of the kids we see on February 8 may go on to realise their dreams and play under the bright lights.
"Rugby league provides you with qualities that guide you through whatever path you choose in life – honesty, commitment and dedication. We consider ourselves lucky to share the training fields of New South Wales with these kids and we will promise them a day that they will never forget."
Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said the development day has been a key part of the planning since discussions began with Wigan.
"The community engagement day has been an important part of our vision from the moment Wigan made the commitment to the region," Sleigh said.
"The day will start with school visits and end with two community events, one at Lang Park in Wollongong and one at Black Beach, Kiama. This is where fans will be welcome to come along and meet the players, throw a ball around and be a part of history for the Illawarra.
"Having three football clubs coming together across five local government areas is a fantastic example of how sport can transcend traditional boundaries and bring people of all ages and walks of life together to enjoy what will be a unique and historic celebration of rugby league."
St George Illawarra local junior Tariq Sims said success can be determined by the generations of players coming through the ranks and the fans who support the Dragons week-in and week-out.
"We have to support and encourage these young players. There is no greater reward as a player than to see the joy they get from our interactions with them," Sims said.
"Getting involved with the kids is always fun and next year we get to extend our engagement with the community events for any and all fans of the game. It should be an amazing day."
Southern NSW Regional Game Development Manager Matt O'Brien said the Best of Both Worlds development day was a coup for the region.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for rugby league in the Illawarra and South Coast regions and we can't wait to work with Wigan and Hull FC along with our local NRL team the Dragons," O'Brien said.
"This is the biggest junior rugby league development day that our team has assembled, with 40 schools in our catchment having the opportunity to interact with superstars from the three clubs. It's a great way to kick off the season and we hope many families, rugby league supporters, fans and junior league players can get to WIN Stadium for the game."
For further information on the Best of Both Worlds junior rugby league development day and to receive an exclusive ticket offer, visit vistwollongong.com.au and click on the Super League on Tour tab.
Wigan plays Hull FC on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Tickets are on sale through WIN Stadium and Ticketmaster.
The Super League game was secured exclusively for Wollongong by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, in partnership with Wigan RLFC and Destination Wollongong.