Rugby league: Canterbury Bulldogs and Canberra Raiders prepare for NRL trial in Port Macquarie

All systems go: Canterbury captain Josh Jackson with Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker at Regional Stadium ahead of Saturday's NRL trial in Port Macquarie.
All systems go: Canterbury captain Josh Jackson with Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker at Regional Stadium ahead of Saturday's NRL trial in Port Macquarie.

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN and Canberra will end a near-decade long NRL drought in Port Macquarie when Josh Jackson and Jarrod Croker lead out their respective sides on Saturday.

The last time any NRL club brought a match to the region was in 2012 when Penrith hosted Newcastle.

But Jackson and the Bulldogs will be seen more regularly around the North Coast over the next five years following a partnership the club has formed with the region.

"We were in the sheds on Wednesday after training and it had that country feel and atmosphere which reminded me of what I played in growing up," Jackson said.

"It's great we can bring these games to country areas; it's great for the kids that they get to see a good quality game of footy and some people they probably see on the tv every week."

The Bulldogs captain is expected to make his return from injury following a broken nose suffered during a training mishap a few weeks ago.

"One of the boys clipped me with his elbow so I didn't get to play in Papua New Guinea last week," he said.

"The boys played well and I was getting a bit itchy sitting on the sideline watching it, so I'm really excited to get back on the field and play a few minutes and prepare for the start of the season."

A near-capacity crowd is expected to pile into Regional Stadium with Raiders co-captain Croker excited about the match which doubles as each club's final pre-season hit-out ahead of round one.

"The small grounds are the ones you want to play at; the ones that are chock-a-block as opposed to something in the city that holds 50,000 and there's only 10,000 in it," he said.

"You'd rather play somewhere that holds a couple of thousand and have it packed out so i'm looking forward to it.

"Hopefully the locals can get the Viking clap going."

The Canberra centre last visited Port Macquarie on the way to his wedding at Byron Bay in 2017.

"We called in to the little Irish pub on the main road, had dinner and a few beers and stayed the night so that's about all I've seen of Port Macquarie," he said.

"Our physio says it's God's country so we're looking forward to getting up there, having a bit of time in the community, having a swim and ripping into the footy on Saturday."

Saturday's match kicks off at 4.30pm.

General admission tickets are still available and can be purchased from Panthers Port Macquarie reception for $20.

This story Bulldogs prepare to tackle Raiders in Port Macquarie first appeared on Wauchope Gazette.

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