The Melbourne Rising are set to play games in Adelaide and Hobart in the coming NRC seasons, as part of a new partnership with the southern states.
The Melbourne Rebels announced a new arrangement forged with the Tasmanian Rugby Union and South Australian Rugby Union to help grow their community bases, with the NRC a key part of that plan.
Further down the chain, the program will also involve initiatives like coaching visits and corporate support.
Nick Ryan, Melbourne’s general manager of professional rugby and pathways, said they had already looked into locking in an NRC game in Adelaide for the 2018 season, with Hobart a likely addition in 2019.
The Rising already play one of their home games in regional Victoria, with the rest played at suburban grounds in Melbourne.
“We’re currently in discussions with South Australia rugby around venues and dates for this year’s NRC campaign and looking to bring that to closure in the next few weeks,” he told RUGBY.com.au.
"We probably see Hobart more for 2019 and Adelaide for 2018, because we’ve committed to taking a game to regional Victoria.
The NRC is a more practical way to engage fans in regional Victoria and interstate.
“We want to bring excitement and colour to our NRC campaign if we’re trying to hit developing markets and grow our rugby program with some good community initiatives..
The new deal struck with the two states is targeted at clubs and schools, with former Rebels Luke Burgess and Alex Rokobaro helping to scout talent and liaise between the states.
“I think from our point of view, sitting in my chair of talent identification, (with Luke and Alex) using their contacts and networks on the ground, there may be some potential athletes playing other codes down there.
“We’re very open minded if there’s someone that wants to give rugby a go personal characteristics be crazy not to have a look.”
All three states are traditional AFL strongholds Ryan said they needed to look further to try and develop more rugby talent.
“The three states are quite aligned in terms of they’re the little brother in their respective markets,” he said.
“We certainly understand the challenges and we feel like our experience in this market down here will help us generate small wins and work with the broader community to try and help young boys and girls into rugby.
“That’s really the essence of the partnership, to assist in growing participation.”