KEY PLAYER: Wade Graham of the Sharks. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
KEY PLAYER: Wade Graham of the Sharks. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sharks circle Coast with NRL blood in the water

CRONULLA Sharks will contest NRL matches on the Sunshine Coast in 2020 and in 2021.

The two games will be held at Sunshine Coast Stadium while their home ground, Shark Park, is being redeveloped.

The club made the announcement at its presentation night on Tuesday, after their finals exit just over a week ago, when they were eliminated by Manly.

Sharks CEO Richard Munro said they were looking forward to playing in the region.

"We are excited about having the opportunity to take a game to the Sunshine Coast in 2020," he said in a press release.

"It's a wonderful venue, a great part of the world, already our members and fans are expressing an interest about heading up there to support the team and we also look forward to showcasing the Sharks to not only our fans but to all rugby league supporters on the Sunshine Coast."

The majority of the Sharks' home matches will be held at Kogarah Oval.

Full details, including their opponents and the dates, won't be known until the draw is released.

The Sunshine Coast held its first NRL game this year, when Souths defeated New Zealand.

The Rabbitohs will also play matches in the region in 2020 and 2021.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson was eagerly anticipating the games.

"Next year the Sunshine Coast will become the only regional destination in Australia to host two NRL clubs in the one season when the Rabbitohs return and the Sharks play here for the first time.

"Council has worked hard to increase our presence in the NRL and for two clubs to choose our region as their home away from home is a tremendous vote of confidence.

"Our inaugural NRL match in April was also a tremendous success from an economic point of view, with hundreds of supporters flying in for the game from interstate and New Zealand.

"We'd love to see plenty of Sharks fans head to the Sunshine Coast next year for what will be another terrific event, including their number one fan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"I am meeting with the Prime Minister this morning in Canberra and I will be extending a personal invitation to him to come to the Sunshine Coast when the Sharks play here next year."

Tourism, Sports and Events Portfolio Cr Jason O'Pray said the matches added to the region's reputation as a leading destination for elite sports teams and sporting events.

"Our success in hosting and supporting a wide range of sporting activity and events has built our reputation to the point where we are now getting more opportunities on the national and international stage."

"We made our inaugural NRL game in April one to remember and it's fantastic that we'll have two NRL opportunities next year and in 2021 to showcase our region to a national audience and our own passionate sports-loving community.

"We anticipate that both of next year's NRL games will be significant drawcards for supporters from around Queensland and interstate leading to a significant boost for the local economy."