The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The 31st annual event which serves as the “unofficial” start to the season, will be held out of Sydney for the first time in the event's history due to contracted venue, ANZ Stadium, being unavailable for the traditional fixture.
The Dragons, with the assistance of Destination Wollongong, secured the event for Wollongong with the support of the Rabbitohs despite interest from a number of other venues.
“The Charity Shield has always been a key event on our calendar and an important match for our team in the lead up to the season and we are happy that we have been able to secure this event for our region,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.
Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said Wollongong is perfectly positioned to benefit from the acquisition of such a prestigious event in more ways than one.
“To see Wollongong selected as the home of the 2014 Charity Shield, considering it has never been played outside of Sydney, is incredibly exciting," said Sleigh.
“Not only will it generate out of region visitation and have a consequent positive impact on the local economy, it further cements Wollongong’s position as a major event destination.
“Wollongong has long been a rugby league heartland, and being able to bring two long standing rivals to the region for such an important game is a great coup for the region.
“We thank the Dragons, Wollongong City Council and WIN Stadium for their assistance in helping us secure another prominent event for Wollongong.”
The annual clash that raises awareness and funds for charity will serve as the final hit-out for the Dragons and the Rabbitohs prior to the start of the 2014 season with both teams expected to field full-strength teams.
“The Charity Shield always brings out the best in both teams, it is played with great intensity and it will be the last chance for our players to press for selection in the opening round,” said Dragons Head Coach Steve Price.
The Charity Shield began in 1982 and so too did the tradition of supporting local charities and causes. In 2014 proceeds from the Charity Shield will support three charities from within the Dragons Community program – The St.George Foundation, St George and Wollongong Public Hospitals.
The St.George Foundation was founded in 1990 by St.George Bank, also the major partner of the St George Illawarra Dragons. Over the past 24 years the Foundation has raised more than $20 million to support physically, socially and economically disadvantaged kids across Australia.
In 30 Charity Shield fixtures contested since 1982, the Dragons have recorded 16 wins, 10 loses and drawn on four occasions.
Dragons and Rabbitohs Members will have a pre-sale purchase window through Ticketek and access to discounted tickets as well as FREE Return Transport from Sydney, details to be finalised and communicated as soon as possible.
For Members and supporters wishing to stay in the Illawarra region, Destination Wollongong will be providing a range of packages and options, details to be finalised and communicated as soon as possible.
Charity Shield Details
Date: Saturday, February 22
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Time: NRL: 5:00pm; Preliminary Game: To be confirmed ahead of tickets going on sale
Members Pre-Sale: Wednesday, January 22 (10.00am) - Monday, January 27 (5.00pm)
General Public: Tuesday, January 28 (10.00am)