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Raiders still in dark over China match with Manly

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Canberra and Manly will likely postpone their China match.

Canberra and Manly will likely postpone their China match. Photo: Mark Kolbe

The Canberra Raiders want Manly to clarify whether an NRL match between the two sides in China next season remains a possibility, as it becomes increasingly likely it will be postponed until 2014.

Raiders boss Don Furner travelled to the city of Shenzhen this week with Manly representatives to tour potential venues and hold further discussions with Chinese government officials.

But the Sea Eagles now appear to have cold feet about shifting their round-11 home clash against the Raiders from Brookvale Oval to China next year.

Manly chief operating officer David Perry withdrew from last week's trip, when Furner also visited the headquarters of Raiders' major sponsor Huawei.

The Raiders still want to accommodate Manly by playing it in China next year, but are keen for the Sea Eagles to give them a definitive answer.

Fairfax Media understands the Sea Eagles have reservations about the travel workload on its players, with Manly due to play Melbourne on Monday night in round 10.

Manly commercial director Greg Butterworth said in media reports this week the club feels playing in China in 2013 would be premature, and the necessary groundwork hasn't been completed.

It is understood Canberra is annoyed communication from Manly hasn't been more transparent.

When the venture was first raised early this year, the Raiders initially held reservations that it would be an uphill battle to have everything in place for next year.

Manly insisted it could be done, but it now seems resigned to the fact it has run out of time and is now working towards 2014 and 2015.

''I spoke to one of the [Manly] board members who was up there [in China] and I said you guys have to work it out,'' Furner said on Saturday. ''They still want to go through it with the NRL, wait until the new [NRL] CEO [David Smith] comes in [to] the board and works it out. So it could happen in May.

''My tip is it will happen in round one, 2014 as a stand-alone game, and afterwards we'd both have the bye when the rest of the competition kicks off the next week.''

The match is likely to be held at Shenzhen's Bao'an District sports stadium, a 35,000-seat venue that is just two years old.

''There's no question the Shenzhen government will get behind it, [Manly sponsor] Kaspersky and Huawei want it to happen, and for them it's a drop in the ocean,'' Furner said.

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