Officials are tipping a near-capacity crowd for the City-Country clash in Wagga Wagga on Sunday, despite the last-minute time change and fears about waning interest in the fixture.
The Country Rugby League has predicted it will go close to selling out the ground, which holds around 10,000.
CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said he was not happy when the starting time was pushed forward more than two hours to 1.45pm because the Australia-New Zealand Test in Brisbane had to be rescheduled due to bad weather.
However he said officials and organisers were getting on with life and still expected a strong attendance.
“The players have been very good about giving their time to the community and schools and they’ve been well received,” Quinn told AAP.
“Ticket sales are going well and we’re expecting a good crowd, even with the time change overnight.”
It was not known how many tickets had been pre-sold, however the tickets which were on sale in regional Telstra stores had sold out and tickets were only available online and at the gate.
Last year the NRL slashed the price of City-Country tickets in response to the poor turnout in Coffs Harbour for the clash two years ago.
Just 4635 fans went through the gates in 2013 after a backlash over the $60 ticket prices.
Pre-sale tickets to this year’s fixture were $5 for kids and $10 for adults and $10 for kids and $20 for adults at the gate.
Quinn said he had been put in a difficult position in getting the message out that the game had been moved forward on less than 48 hours’ notice.
While a local curtain raiser had to be scrapped, he said the time change would not be a fatal blow to the attendance and the event.
“It will have some affect but we’re trying to get the message out as best we can,” Quinn said.
“It might even work in our favour and people will now be able to travel home in daylight.”