Rugby League

South Sydney Rabbitohs target Campbelltown fans as Wests Tigers look to win back the region

Campbelltown City Council has been in discussions with South Sydney Rabbitohs about building a presence in the area that could lead to the club playing a trial there.

Campbelltown has traditionally been the heartland of Western Suburbs Magpies, and most recently the Wests Tigers, however there has been a growing feeling among council members that the Tigers have neglected the region in recent years.

James Tedesco of the Wests Tigers on the burst at Campbelltown Sports Stadium last season.
James Tedesco of the Wests Tigers on the burst at Campbelltown Sports Stadium last season. Photo: Anna Warr

It led to discussions between Campbelltown City Council and the Rabbitohs, who have since been engaging in the Campbelltown community in a bid to expand their stretch in the west.

While the Tigers' previous administration were guilty of abandoning south-west Sydney, new chief executive Justin Pascoe has vowed to win back the region after identifying Campbelltown as a key to the club's longevity.

"It is not a concern that South Sydney are targeting that area as they have targeted others," Pascoe said.

"Competition creates a healthy environment. What I would say is that irrelevant of what South Sydney or any club is doing, we as an organisation have strategically identified that Campbelltown and that whole south west region are extremely important for the longevity of the Wests Tigers.

Advertisement

"As a consequence, over the last five months we have been implementing and executing strategies to engage again with the community there, and that will continue."

While the Rabbitohs won't move an NRL game to Campbelltown given they have already moved games to Cairns and Perth, there are discussions about potentially playing a trial match at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in the future.

They recently hosted a fan day at Fisher's Ghost festival in Campbelltown and have received requests from schools to do healthy lifestyle Souths Cares presentations.

Since moving to ANZ Stadium in 2006, South Sydney have enjoyed a substantial growth in membership in western Sydney with close to 60 per cent of their members living in the inner west and greater western Sydney.

They also take games to Cairns, Perth and Gosford, with 1500 members in Western Australia, 3000 members in Queensland and 1500 members on the Central Coast.

"Souths' traditional geographic heartland is south Sydney but it's very expensive to live there now and many of our members and fans live in western Sydney," Rabbitohs boss John Lee said.

"It's important, therefore, that we service those fans in western Sydney. That's why we play the majority of our games in western Sydney at the Olympic stadium."

Over the next 10 years, more than 100,000 people are expected to be living in the Narellan and Camden regions, with the Rabbitohs identifying the area as a potential growth market as the club begins to develop a footprint in the south-west.

Campbelltown City Council general manager Lindy Deitz said they would like to see more Wests Tigers matches as well as other NRL teams and sporting codes play at the stadium.

"If opportunities arise for South Sydney Rabbitohs to play matches at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, we would welcome the opportunity for this to occur," Deitz said.

Rival codes have tried to infiltrate what has traditionally been a rugby league stronghold, with Pascoe determined to ensure the Tigers remain the No.1 team in town.

"We've been talking to as many as the key stakeholders as possible, that's including the junior league out there, as well as engaging across our organisation and with the key people of council," Pascoe said.

"We've been implementing and attending community events, we're visiting over 85 schools and reaching more than 22,000 kids next Wednesday in that region and have worked with council to ensure that game day is a far greater spectacle and experience. We're working with corporates in that region on the best way to engage with people of the area.

"We've previously rarely trained at Campbelltown but we'll be out there every day next week and hold an open session to the community. We will aggressively make sure that Campbelltown remains a big part of this organisation. And that's against our rival NRL clubs and other sports."

0 comments