By GREG WHITE
IT had been hinted for a while Coffs Harbour was in line to host a second-tier match in rugby league's interstate 'Quad Series' but few were prepared for this week's news.
After years of negotiation between Coffs Harbour City Council's Sports Unit and Country Rugby League, the 2007 City v Country Origin spectacular will unfold at Coffs Coast International Stadium on Thursday, May 3.
The match had been awarded to Albury but all that changed this week when the invitation to the border city was withdrawn because of the rising cost of staging the match.
So unexpected was the announcement of Coffs' success, when the Coffs Coast Advocate sought details yesterday few in local government or league circles could offer more than confirmation the match had been awarded.
"I've seen proposals Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie put up and the Coffs submission was outstanding," Group 2 secretary Peter O'Grady said.
O'Grady admits being taken by surprise but believes Group 2 chairman Greg Mayhew knew 'something was up' after attending a CRL meeting in Newcastle on October 22.
The match was shifted from Albury's Lavington Panthers Oval when organisers refused a request from Channel Nine to cover the $100,000 in costs for extra lighting and broadcast facilities.
"It was disappointing the game had to be moved from Lavington because it would have been a great promotional tool for the game in the area," CRL general manager Terry Quinn said in a prepared statement.
CRL's regional area manager Scott Bone said his bosses were locked away in a meeting with the Gold Coast Titans and he was still waiting for actual plans.
"I knew something was up but the suddenness has caught me by surprise," he admitted.