PACKED HOUSE: Manly's Dylan Walker runs out onto Marley Brown Oval for the Round 5 NRL clash against Gold Coast Titans on April 8.
PACKED HOUSE: Manly's Dylan Walker runs out onto Marley Brown Oval for the Round 5 NRL clash against Gold Coast Titans on April 8. Mike Richards GLA080408NRLG

'It's an opportunity': Legend's plan to boost footy in CQ

ONE of rugby league's greatest players says the NRL should be doing more to address crowd sizes and believes some metropolitan matches should be relocated to regional areas.

Retired North Queensland Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston, who played his final game for the club against the Gold Coast Titans on September 1, told The Observer he'd like to see more Sydney-based games relocated to regional centres, such as Central Queensland.

"That's something the NRL should be looking at, crowd attendances, and for those low ones maybe it's an opportunity for the clubs to take them to regional areas where you'll get 10-12,000 people," Thurston said.

Low crowd numbers have dogged the NRL in recent years and even more so during the 2018 season.

 

Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys receives the ball during the Round 25 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the North Queensland Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, September 1, 2018.
Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys receives the ball during the Round 25 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the North Queensland Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, September 1, 2018. DAVE HUNT

Nineteen games played in Sydney this year have attracted a crowd of 10,000 or less, with eight of those games played in the cavernous surrounds of the 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium.

When it came to a playing-ground preference, Thurston choice was always playing in an regional area.

"Of course you'd rather play at a regional ground where the atmosphere would certainly be different to that at ANZ Stadium, but there's a lot logistics and a lot of stars that need to be aligned to make that happen," he said.

"A lot of companies put their hard-earned cash towards teams to play at their home grounds but certainly the NRL needs to look at crowd attendances over the past few years and hopefully they can work out which games go to regional towns.

"Maybe the NRL reimburses the clubs or come up with some type of agreement that we can take those games to regional areas."

Gladstone hosted a sell-out crowd of 5136 at Marley Brown Oval for the Round 5 NRL match between the Titans and Manly Sea Eagles on April 8.



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