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The Australian Rugby League have played the safe card in their recent decsion to host the ANZAC test match between Australia and New Zealand at Newcastle?s EnergyAustralia Stadium rather than the larger Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) in Brisbane.
EnergyAustralia Stadium which will hold around 25,000 at the time the Test Match takes place (April 23) is almost guaranteed to sell out, especially with home town hero, Andrew Johns expected to take part in the match.
The news however is a blow to International Rugby League supporters north of the border. Brisbane have been without a Test Match since the 1999 Tri-Series game which saw the Kangaroos take on a very weak Great Britain and Ireland side. New South Wales however have been able to host internationals in 2000 (V New Zealand ? Sydney, V New Zealand Residents ? Gosford), 2002 (V Great Britain ? Sydney) and 2003 (V New Zealand ? Sydney).
The decision to play at EnergyAustralia Stadium is also a slight backwards step by the ARL, with the Kangaroos in recent years finally beginning to regain the imagination of the public with increased television audiences and attendances at grounds (over 30,000 at last two Sydney test matches with almost no promotion) settling for a crowd of 25,000 seems a little bit like the easy option was taken.
This is not to say that Newcastle do not deserve a Test Match, more that if only one test is going to be held in Australia, the appropriate organisations should aim to get as large of crowd as possible. The only true advantage which will come out of the hosting of the test in Newcastle is the planned blockbusters between Penrith V Brisbane (Suncorp ? Sunday) and Roosters V Dragons (SFS ? Monday) still should draw large crowds.