NRL goes on the attack in western Sydney - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL goes on the attack in western Sydney

By Steve Jancetic 08/02/2010 08:09:08 PM Comments (0)

There was little subterfuge as the NRL went into counterattack mode on Monday in a bid to protect its western Sydney heartland from the raids of the AFL.

The best the game has to offer were all on show as the NRL All Stars side held a coaching clinic for more than 300 school kids in Blacktown, the latest battle ground for the rivalling footballing codes.

Just a stones throw away from the base of new AFL franchise Greater Western Sydney and the venue for the Swans' pre-season opener on Saturday week, NRL chief executive David Gallop said rugby league was determined to maintain its dominance in the west.

"The fact is we've been out here for 100 years," Gallop said while attending the clinic.

"This is genuinely somewhere we can call home but this is a competitive market and we need to continue to show our presence.

"The evidence is that our participation rates have grown every year, but there's no doubt that the market's become more competitive and therefore we've ramped up our effort.

"We're the market leader and whenever you're the market leader you've got to be conscious of what you need to do to stay there.

"I'm confident rugby league will be the market leader in years to come."

Gallop's stance was backed by Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne, but All Stars teammate and fellow western Sydney product Israel Folau left NRL officials a little red-faced when he gave the rival code a bizarre leg up.

"I hope the AFL get a bit of a run around this area and hopefully it grows into the future," Folau said.

"I hope (they can co-exist). I know rugby league's the bigger game around here, we'll just see what happens over the next couple of years over."

Gallop said the NRL would not be attempting to reinvent the wheel in its bid to maintain its stronghold in the area.

"Our primary focus is doing what we do well and recognising the game's strong out here because of the generational support," he said.

"Legitimately, rugby league's able to say when we hold a game in western Sydney, grandfathers, fathers and their sons go to the games together and that kind of generational support is not something that money can necessarily fight overnight."

Hayne, who inadvertently found himself the poster boy of the battle for Sydney's west when linked with a code switch to GWS before re-signing with the Eels, said it was vital league did all it could to ward off AFL's advances.

"They're obviously looking to really establish themselves in western Sydney - they'll pretty much do anything to get their brand up and running," Hayne said.

"We've got to come up with something, we can't just let them come in and feel comfortable and take as many rugby league people away from the game (as they want)."

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