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NRL announces ‘festival of footy’ to support bushfire-ravaged community

The NRL has announced a three-day festival of footy to help bushfire-ravaged communities in southern NSW.

Next month, the NRL will relocate the ‘Battle of the West’ between the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels to Bega in a bid to raise money, awareness and spirits.

The February 29 trial game will see both clubs embed their squads in the region for three days, encouraging visitors to return to the Sapphire Coast.

In addition, the NSWRL will move the Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cup matches from Wollongong to Bega to provide an afternoon showcase of young, regional rugby league talent.

NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg says the announcement is just part of the game’s response to the bushfire crisis, which includes a dedicated Bushfire Appeal Thank You Round to open the 2020 season.

Mr Greenberg tells John Stanley it’s the least they can do.

“If there’s one thing Rugby League can do, it’s unite a community like this, particularly a Rugby League heartland like the South Coast.

“We’ve had a great response from players, from clubs, from government. The Premier’s been unbelievably supportive of us doing this in Bega.”

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