Excitement is building on the Far North Coast where reserved seating has already sold out for the HSBC Waratahs’ opening match of 2010. The trial is part of a Festival of Rugby in Lismore which kicks off when the team touches down from Sydney later this week.

After the team arrives in town on Friday, they will hold their Captain’s Run training session in the afternoon at Oakes Oval, the venue for Saturday’s Super 14 trial against the Queensland Reds.

The session will be open to the public, and following training players will remain to sign autographs for local rugby enthusiasts at the ground.

On Friday evening, players will attend the Dine With the Waratahs Dinner at Southern Cross University. While they will not take part in the opening trial match of the year, captain Phil Waugh and Wallabies vice-captain Berrick Barnes will also be in Lismore to attend the dinner. Limited seats are still available – see details below for more information.

At 10.30am on Saturday morning, selected players will conduct a coaching clinic for junior players from local clubs, with registrations filling up weeks ago for the special event at Southern Cross University.

After the clinic, players will continue preparing for what will be a great evening of rugby which will also celebrate the depth of the sport in the region.

At 3.30pm, a regional Academy fixture will take place at St John’s College Woodlawn.

The Oakes Oval Gates will open at 4pm.

At 5.15pm the curtain-raiser will take place between Far North Coast and Gold Coast Breakers A, before the main game kicks off at 7.40pm.

The match will be an important hit-out for both sides, with the HSBC Waratahs hoping to continue their efforts of 2008 and 2009 when they defeated the Reds in their opening trials for each of their respective seasons.

Head coach Chris Hickey has highlighted the importance of the match, indicating performances in Lismore will go some way to determining places in the opening Super 14 side of the year.

“You can never underestimate the importance of trials in terms of what they mean to individuals, and what it means to the on-field development of the squad,” said Hickey.

“There aren’t competition points up for grabs, but if these matches didn’t mean anything then you wouldn’t bother to play them.

“Given this is the first opportunity players have to show their wares in 2010, the match holds extra significance and I know both teams will be ready to hit the ground running when that whistle sounds.”

Hickey, a former Ballina coach, said that there was genuine excitement within the group about heading to Lismore and getting the season under way.

“Most of the squad has been together since November, the team staff have been preparing for even longer than that, so the lead-up has been long and everyone’s ready to hit the ‘go’ button and start playing some footy,” said Hickey.

HSBC WARATAHS’ SCHEDULE IN LISMORE

Friday 22 January 2010

  • 3pm  Captain’s Run at Oakes Oval, Lismore (followed by signing session)
  • 6pm  Dine With the Waratahs Rugby Dinner at Union Building, Southern Cross University (featuring Chris Hickey, Phil Waugh, Berrick Barnes, and more). Limited tickets still available $90/p or $850/table of 10. Call Lismore Information Centre on 1300 369 795 for tickets.

Saturday 23 January 2010

  • 10.30pm  Coaching Clinic at Southern Cross University (registrations full)
  • 3.30pm  Regional Academy Match at St John’s Woodlawn College, Lismore
  • 4pm  Oakes Oval gates open
  • 5.15pm  Far North Coast v Gold Coast Breakers A
  • 7.40pm  HSBC Waratahs v Queensland Reds (tickets available from www.ticketek.com or at the gate).