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The National Rugby League (NRL) and its longest-running partner, Telstra, today announced the NRL Telstra Premiership Footy Country Series, a new initiative to celebrate and support rugby league communities in regional Australia during the 2024 season.

The series kicks off on Sunday, April 7 as the North Queensland Cowboys host the Gold Coast Titans in Townsville and comprises 10 themed NRL and NRLW games in total, across nine regional locations.

In each location, the NRL Telstra Premiership Footy Country Series will highlight and strengthen the deep bonds between country rugby league and the elite game. Community activities at local clubs and schools will feature junior rugby league clinics, player and trophy appearances and donating Telstra Footy Packs including hit shields, tackling bags and other football equipment.

Those local clubs and schools will then be given a once in a lifetime experience up close with their NRL and NRLW heroes on game day. Along with tickets, each junior player will get a Telstra Footy Kit, take part in an on-field clinic and form the guard of honour as teams run out for kick-off. Game days will also celebrate the local heroes who make grassroots rugby league possible in each community.

Pioneered by Telstra, the Footy Country Series aims to shine a light on regional communities, where the connection with footy runs deepest, and support children’s wellbeing through participation in the game. The initiative comes following the success of the Telstra NRL Footy Country Tour last year, which took coaching clinics, wellbeing workshops and star player appearances to over 10,000 local junior players during the 2023 Finals Series.

Amanda Hutton, Group Executive Telstra Business said, “This game is all about belonging, connection and community, and it’s in the country where this relationship runs the deepest. It was great to see the positive difference last year’s initiative made to the physical and mental wellbeing of the kids who participated, and we’re incredibly excited to now kick off the NRL Telstra Premiership Footy Country Series. We hope that it will make a meaningful difference and inspire the next generation.”

As a proud country boy from Dubbo, Panthers skipper Isaah Yeo can’t wait to take his team back to Bathurst in Round 7 to face Wests Tigers.

The Panthers have built a strong relationship with the Central West region of NSW and Yeo says the support for the three-peat premiers has grown enormously since they started taking games to Bathurst.

“The first year we went to Bathurst there was no Penrith jerseys floating around and now they are everywhere,” Yeo said.

“There’s Panthers jerseys as far as the eye can see now and I’m sure the support will be the same in all the towns the teams go to [during the Footy Country series].

“Growing up in Dubbo we had Andrew Ryan who was from our area and he was having success with the Bulldogs and playing for NSW and Australia. I remember he brought the Bulldogs out for a trial game one year and it we had City-Country games out there as well.

“It was the greatest thing ever having those guys come out to our town.”

Panthers pair Isaah Yeo and Dylan Edwards at the launch of the Telstra Footy Country series.
Panthers pair Isaah Yeo and Dylan Edwards at the launch of the Telstra Footy Country series. ©NRL Photos

Yeo said the move to take NRL games to the country and Telstra’s ongoing financial support of the grassroots provided a huge boost for youngsters aspiring to make it to the big time.

“There needs to be a constant push for younger people back home to make sure they are active and channeling their energy in the right direction, there’s so many distractions now,” Yeo said.

“It’s something I look back on very fondly [starting out in Dubbo].

“Footy gave me a purpose when I was young and the guys I played with when I was six and seven years old are still my friends today.

“I think it gives everyone back home a sense of pride when someone from their area makes it in the NRL."

Telstra Footy Country series schedule

  Date Fixture Venue
NRL Sunday, April 7 Cowboys v Titans Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
NRL Friday, April 19 Eels v Dolphins TIO Stadium, Darwin
NRL Saturday, April 20 Panthers v Wests Tigers  Carrington Park, Bathurst
NRL Saturday, May 21 Wests Tigers v Knights Scully Park, Tamworth
NRL Saturday, June 22 Roosters v Bulldogs Industree Group Stadium, Gosford
NRL Friday, July 5 Sharks v Titans C.Ex International Stadium, Coffs Harbour
NRL Friday, July 19 Raiders v Warriors GIO Stadium, Canberra
NRLW Sunday, July 28 Dragons v Titans WIN Stadium, Wollongong
NRL Saturday, August 17 Bulldogs v Dolphins Salter Oval, Bundaberg
NRLW Saturday, August 17 Cowboys v Titans Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville


Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.