Organisers have defended shunning NSW when allocating next year’s Rugby League World Cup matches, saying it came down to state government willingness to pay.
Only two of the 28 matches will be played in league heartland NSW, both pool games featuring minnows Lebanon in Sydney.
Christchurch, Wellington, Melbourne and even Darwin will host quarter-finals before semi-finals move to Brisbane and Auckland.
Brisbane will host the December 2 World Cup final.
Unveiling the draw on Tuesday, World Cup 2017 CEO Michael Brown said the NSW government simply didn’t come to the party when the organising committee was finalising the draw.
“It is about the involvement of each of the governments willing to host matches and sadly that didn’t happen in NSW.
“But we think Lebanon is the perfect team for Sydney to host.”
Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith conceded that Sydney fans would be disappointed by the draw.
Sydney hosts Lebanon’s pool matches against Australia and Wayne Bennett’s England.
“It would be disappointing for Sydney but one thing the NRL have done is try and grow this game across the nation,” Smith said.
“We are the host nation – let’s share the game.”
Queensland will host a total of eight matches, with Townsville and Cairns each allotted three group matches.
Melbourne has been given two games, both big ones – the glamour tournament opener between Australia and England on October 27 and a quarter-final.
Six NSW venues were used for nine games during the 2008 World Cup – the last to be played in the country.
Seven matches in next year’s event will also be played in tournament co-host New Zealand, including the country’s tournament opener against Samoa on October 28.
Papua New Guinea will play each of their three group matches in Port Moresby.