Parramatta are considering an NRL game in Asia while their stadium is being redeveloped.
The Eels are set to become rugby league nomads as they explore options to play regular fixtures internationally and across Australia. With Pirtek Stadium set to undergo a $300 million facelift at the end of this season, the Eels face the prospect of being homeless until March 2019, the scheduled completion date of the venue. While nearby ANZ Stadium – also the likely beneficiary of a major redevelopment – is the logical home ground for the Eels, Parramatta already have a relationship with the Northern Territory government in which they take matches to the top end.
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Eels chief executive John Boulous confirmed his club would look at staging a match overseas. "We want to stay predominantly within the area," Boulous said. "We have a very large membership base which means with that it really limits the options, because you have to cater for the number of ticket members.
"We're not averse to playing at ANZ Stadium – we do that at the moment as part of our regular deal. I would imagine that would figure very heavily but there is an opportunity to spread our brand nationally, so we can look at it as a positive for two years. You have to use it as an opportunity for two years and we can see some benefits to spread our brand nationality to do that, and internationally. No one has ventured into Asia.
"We will certainly look at everything. When you get an opportunity like this it is one you really have to explore. As a club we want to be at the forefront of growing our brand both nationally and internationally. If any decision we can make during this, while making sure our members and fans are looked after, we need to take that opportunity.
"We have explored a few of the options. As for now we hope to have it settled in the next couple of months. I can see anything happening. We don't want to be drawn into one size fits all.
"We want to develop and grow and to do that we need to engage new people as well as cater for our existing."
Recent plans to stage a match in China between Canberra and Manly never eventuated. Boulous said he wanted to grow the game by taking it to a new market.
"Logistically it would be very difficult," Boulous said. "You would do it for your club, but also for the game. I think everyone has an obligation to grow and develop the game.
"It's something we actually support. We need to explore everything but we also need to make sure we look after the people that sign up."
Meanwhile, Boulous said the club was working "very hard" to ensure it would not start the season on minus four competition points because of salary cap breaches. The Eels will learn their fate on February 29, just three days before they host the season opener against Brisbane.
"We are working with the NRL," Boulous said. "We are working in pretty good faith. I have no doubt we will do everything in our power to ensure we put the processes and policies in place that make the mandatory requirements."
Boulous and Eels hooker Nathan Peats were on hand to launch the Eels' first Indigenous jersey on Monday. The Eels will wear the jersey against South Sydney in round 10.
"In 2014 we launched our Reconciliation Action Plan which is extremely special to us," Boulous said. "It is something we need to ensure that it is something more than just on paper. It is something we implement to understand the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and imbed that into every department at the club."