CAIRNS

Inside Sport - - IN HINDSIGHT -

SUN­DAY ,1 JULY

Cairns re­ally is one of the great rugby league pil­grim­age des­ti­na­tions. In re­cent years, the North Queens­land city has de­vel­oped into a hotspot for elite-level rugby league, host­ing reg­u­lar trial matches as well as NRL home and away games thanks to South Syd­ney. (Speak­ing of top-level tal­ent, keep an eye out for for­mer “bad boy” Todd Car­ney while you’re up here: the Goul­burn prod­uct signed on with Queens­land Cup side North­ern Pride over the sum­mer, as he chases an NRL life­line fol­low­ing a cou­ple of years in the wilder­ness.)

The dis­trict’s pas­sion for the sport was re­warded with three fix­tures across the 2017 Rugby League World Cup: a dou­ble-header fea­tur­ing Scot­land vs Tonga and Ire­land up against Italy, as well as Scot­land’s his­toric boilover draw against the un­der­whelm­ing Samoans.

As well as the now-an­nual NRL game be­tween Souths and the Cow­boys, Bar­low Park will also be host­ing a pre-sea­son trial match be­tween the Cows and Wests Tigers this sum­mer, en­sur­ing two more tastes of NRL footy for the lo­cals.

Cairns is a top spot for watch­ing rugby league. Last year while tag­ging along with his bet­ter half who was in town for a week­end con­fer­ence, your writer ended up at the lo­cal casino. Af­ter stress­ing about my lack of de­cent clob­ber (I’d only packed thongs), I was let in with­out a has­sle and en­joyed a great night watch­ing the Cow­boys play the Ti­tans on a giant screen, joined by hun­dreds of thong-and-shorts-wear­ing lo­cals in the casino’s makeshift in­door grand­stand-type au­di­to­rium.

Match: Rab­bitohs vs Cow­boys Lo­ca­tion: Bar­low Park, Qld Ca­pac­ity: 18,000 Off the field: Plenty to do be­sides the footy. A scenic flight over any num­ber of lo­cal bod­ies of wa­ter, or the Skyrail Gon­dola and Ku­randa Train are the stand­outs.

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