Lighting upgrades needed
IN WHAT Sunshine Coast Council is calling three days of sport "unlike we've ever seen in our region”, as many as 15,000 fans across the two venues will have the chance to see some of netball and rugby league's biggest stars early next year.
Melbourne Storm will face the New Zealand Warriors in a trial match on Saturday, February 11, with Sunshine Coast Lightning to play its first ever matches against Southern Steel on Friday, February 12 and Sunday, February 13.
It will signal the opening of the new-look Sunshine Coast Stadium, which will increase its capacity to 10,000 fans, and the opening of the University of the Sunshine Coast's 2200-seat netball arena.
Sunshine Coast Council's Tourism, Events and Sport Portfolio Cr Jason O'Pray said the three-day sport festival was the perfect opportunity to showcase the region's venues to the Australian and New Zealand sporting public.
It's the second straight year Melbourne Storm have returned to play on the Coast, and the first time in a decade the Warriors will play here.
"The trial events are getting bigger and better for us and fingers crossed we'll have more national franchises wanting to come to the Sunshine Coast in the future,” he said.
When asked whether the NRL trial could be a pre-cursor to securing an NRL season-proper match , Cr O'Pray downplayed the Coast's chances, for now.
He said the stadium, which is currently undergoing renovations at the southern, eastern and northern end of the ground, would need lighting upgrades for television.
"If we can manage that in the next couple of years we'll be first in line for an NRL game.”
Who will the Kiwis go for?
SHE might barrack for the Warriors but Sunshine Coast Lightning netball coach Noeline Taurua is now in the thick of Melbourne Storm territory.
Like the 22,000 other Kiwis who call the Coast home, she could face a dilemma when the region hosts what is being marketed as a unique triple-header at the newly-renovated Sunshine Coast Stadium and the University of the Sunshine Coast early next year.
Ms Taurua's squad will on Friday, complete week four of its maiden pre-season campaign, with international superstars Caitlin Bassett (Australia) and Laura Langman (New Zealand) set to join the squad for the first time on Monday.
Lightning's two trial matches come just one week ahead of their first Suncorp Super Netball match against Queensland Firebirds at Boondall on February 18.
"It's an opportune time for us I suppose to bless USC, our home venue,” she said.
Ms Taurua moved to the Sunshine Coast from New Zealand this year but will still cheer for her favourite NRL team, even if she thinks they're no good things.
"Storm (to win) definitely,” she said. "I'm actually a Warriors fan to be honest but they need a bit of stability.”
Falcons to build links with Lightning
Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Craig 'Trigger' Ingebrigtsen said he felt his side would get a lot out of having it's big NRL brothers visit for the week.
"From that position of having Craig (Bellamy) and their staff around its very important ... it's a very inclusive and a great footy club,” he said.
The Melbourne Storm and USC-owned Lightning might be the new kids in town, but Ingebrigtsen said he would be more than happy to build a strong working relationship between the teams.
"Lightning is going to be great for our community and is very good for our club being the Melbourne Storm and the partnership,” he said.
"Obviously for the Lightning to start in that fashion and be on the same card as we all are, people can get behind the Sunshine Coast.”
Friday, February 10 @ USC Stadium
- Sunshine Coast Lightning vs Southern Steel @ USC Stadium (Time TBA)
Saturday, February 11 @ Sunshine Coast Stadium
- Falcons v (Melbourne under-20) Thunderbolts (1pm)
- Falcons v Redcliffe Dolphins (2.45pm)
- Storm v New Zealand Warriors (5pm)
Sunday, February 12 @USC Stadium
- Sunshine Coast Lightning v Southern Steel (Time TBA)
- Tickets for the NRL trial go on sale at 10am on Monday from www.sunshinecoaststadium.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au
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