Welsh National League Two club the Celtic Crusaders have secured the coup of the British off-season by gaining a friendly clash with the Brisbane Broncos.
The Bridgend based team will play the NRL champions at their home ground of Brewery Field on the 15th of February. The game will be used by the Broncos as a warm up for their World Club Challenge clash with St Helens on the 23rd of February.
The Bronco?s undoubtedly decided on playing the Crusaders due to their previous association with Celtic coach John Dixon who was at the Brisbane club for ten years fulfilling roles such as development officer, feeder club coach and assistant coach.
The clash will be a financial boost for the Crusaders with the club already attracting interest from a number of Australian-based sponsors.
However the team will be more enthused about using the fixture as an opportunity to demonstrate to the wider rugby league community that they are future force in the game.
Despite being in their infancy, the Celtic Crusaders have made substantial progress in their inaugural season. Established last year by local businessman Leighton Samuel, the club made a bold attempt to win promotion in their first season.
Whilst playing in a league made up of part-time teams, the club secured the services of former NRL players Michael Ryan and Matt Jobson, as well as a host of local talent. This move almost paid off with the Crusaders missing out on promotion to National League One by only one point.
With the European Superleague set to expand in 2009, and whisper circulating of the RFL?s desire to establish an elite team in Wales, the Crusaders are as much about demonstrating their worth as a viable, profitable club, than winning football matches.
The club would proudly march into Superleague if they are able to win promotion in consecutive years but, if things go as planned, the Crusaders may be welcomed into Superleague in 2009 regardless.