PORT Macquarie is set to host its first National Rugby League-sanctioned trial match when Canterbury-Bankstown tackle Canberra on February 29 next year.
The fixture will be the region's first since Penrith and Newcastle played a trial match on February 11, 2012 and before that, City played Country in 2010 with Country proving too good 36-18.
Canterbury's visit is part of a five-year partnership agreement with the North Coast where the boys from Belmore will have a growing visual presence.
Country Rugby League East Coast regional area manager Kevin Hill said the first grade match would be the cherry on the top of a five-day visit by the two NRL clubs.
"Part of (the Bulldogs) agreement is they sit in and have a fair bit to do with our under-16 and under-18 Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cup competitions," he said.
The fixture will tie in with a round of that competition which will see the region's under-16, under-18 and under-23 representative teams playing preceding matches on the day.
"They're trying to solidify a good relationship with Group 2 and Group 3," Hill said.
"It's only a couple of weeks out before the competition starts, so they've committed they'll pretty much have close to their top squads in Port Macquarie for that weekend.
"We're not getting second or third-tier teams, they're bringing up their top squads."
The Bulldogs are expected to be on the North Coast for five days including game day while the Raiders will spend three nights in the region.
"These type of things bring promotion to the area for NRL clubs but it also fosters the game in the local area," Hill said.
Part of the tour will involve junior clinics and promotions as well as fundraising dinners which will involve the playing squads and coaching staff.
"This is looking to be something they would do every two or three years whether it's in Port or Coffs," Hill said.
Coffs Harbour was originally looked at as the venue, but they had to decline due to a pre-booked Elton John concert.
Their loss will be Port Macquarie's gain with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council staff expected to work around the clock to get the Regional Stadium playing surface up to standard.
Touch football's NSW Junior State Cup northern conference competition will be played in Port Macquarie between February 15-17.
"Council are confident they'll have (the ground) in good shape and are mindful of having an NRL trial," Hill said.
"It's Canterbury's last trial before the season kicks off."
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