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Rabbitohs to ruin Valentines

COFFS Coast women just may have to reschedule Valentines Day 2009.

Coffs Harbour's BCU International Stadium is set to be full of rugby league fans that night as South Sydney face Penrith in an NRL trial match.

Rabbitohs' chief executive Shane Richardson also added that his club is going to have two week-long camps at Pacific Bay.

The first will be at the start of December and the second one will be in the week leading up to the trial match where many members of the playing squad will be getting out into the community and local schools on top of their training requirements for the week.

Richardson said that playing the match against the Panthers is all part of the original agreement that the club struck with the council that will see Souths become more than just Camp Rabbitoh tenants but actual members of the community.

“It's a chance to push forward our community programs and working with our indigenous work program, I think that's an important part about it,” he said.

“We'd like to think that we're out here in the community doing a lot with the clubs and the schools.

“The whole idea is to get amongst the community here.”

The trial match will be the return of top flight rugby league to the stadium after last year being spoilt by the City-Country Origin clash as well as the debut of the Gold Coast Titans in their opening trial against Melbourne.

Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor Cr Keith Rhoades believes that the experience Coffs Harbour has in hosting big sporting events will make next year's match a tremendous spectacle.

“Coffs Harbour is very well set up to host major games,” Cr Rhoades boasted. “Our rugby league history since 1994, when we opened the International Stadium, I think now we're up to our 10th or 11th trial game done with the NRL clubs.”

While a match of this scale has the potential to bring hospitality dollars into the city, Cr Rhoades believes that matches like these aren't about dollars and cents.

“The big winners out of this is the youth, our kids,” he said.

“They go to school now and say 'did you see this on TV last night'.

“Here they get the opportunity to go to school and say 'wasn't that great out at the Stadium on the weekend' and 'I brushed past Craig Wing and he stopped and said g'day'.”

With the promise of more Rabbitohs' trial games in 2010 and 2011, that's a big boost to local rugby league.