Good Friday will rival Anzac Day and grand final day as one of the biggest occasions on the NRL calendar in 2016, after the replay of last season’s decider between North Queensland and Brisbane was scheduled on the public holiday.
The Cowboys-Broncos clash at Suncorp Stadium on March 25 will follow the traditional Good Friday match between two of the NRL’s best supported clubs in Canterbury and South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
The AFL continues to decline to schedule matches on the Christian holy day but the NRL is banking on the start to the Easter weekend becoming one of its marquee days.
The Cowboys on Wednesday confirmed the date for the round four clash, meaning the Broncos won’t have to wait too long into the new season to gain a modicum of revenge for their epic grand final loss to North Queensland.
The grand final replay will come five and a half months since North Queensland’s 17-16 win in this year’s decider.
The round match at Suncorp Stadium is a potential sellout at the 52,000-seat venue, while the Dogs-Rabbitohs clash drew 51,686 in 2013, 43,255 last year and 40,523 this year at a rain-soaked ANZ Stadium.
This season’s clash between Canterbury and Souths was one of the most controversial of 2015 and nicknamed “Bad Friday” after its sensational ending was marred by referee abuse and crowd violence.
Last season the NRL scheduled five matches on Anzac Day including the traditional match-up between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra.
The NRL have only released snippets of the 2016 draw so far, with the remainder expected to be released later this week.
However they are unlikely to schedule five games again on Anzac Day 2016 as it falls on a Monday, this year it was on a Saturday.