Members' Login

To Honour A Legend: Cathy Freeman Stand Unveiled At Accor Stadium

By Matt Cleary

It’s a warm, verging on a hot Friday morning at Accor Stadium and the dignitaries are fanning themselves with the event program and sweating in their suits. There are no complaints, though. Not today. For they’re here to honour a legend.

Chris Minns, the Premier of NSW, is here, with Jodie Harrison, Minister for Women, and Steve Kamper, Minister for Sport.

There’s David Gallop and Kerrie Mather, respectively chairman and chief of Venues NSW.

There’s Australia’s Olympic chief Matt Carroll and AOC President John Coates in a (wise) Panama hat.

Two-time Olympian Patrick Johnson is here. He once ran 9.93 for the hundred and remains Australia’s fastest-ever man.

Bruce McAvaney is here, too – he didn’t run for his country. But he could call sport for Australia.

And one famous Monday evening on September 25, 2000, he did, when upwards of 20 million eyeballs tuned in to see a famous hot lap of Stadium Australia.

Cathy Freeman and Bruce McAvaney at the unveiling of the Cathy Freeman Stand at Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

Such was – and remains – the pulling power of our guest of honour, Australia’s 400-metre Sydney 2000 Olympics champion Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman, OAM, who’s here with her family to witness the unveiling of the Cathy Freeman Stand on the eastern side of Accor Stadium.

Typically for Freeman, she’s a touch non-plussed at all the fuss.

“I’m just a Kuku Yalanji woman, a Birri Gubba woman, who’s just taking each stride, doing my best to be me, making the most of life and opportunities, drawing inspiration from my family, from stories, from learning along the way,” she tells interviewer and close friend, McAvaney.

“But this is such an incredible day today.

“I’m so honoured, I’m almost speechless.”

Cathy Freeman and Chris Minns at the unveiling of the Cathy Freeman Stand at Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

McAvaney assures her: “There won’t be a person in Australia that’s not smiling today, not one.”

There wasn’t one 23 years ago to the day when Freeman emerged in a fireproof white bodysuit to light the Olympic flame at the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony.

Ten days later, her win in the Olympic 400 metre final was the joyous pinnacle of the greatest feel-good fortnight Australia’s ever known.

Cathy Freeman, Chris Minns and John Coates with the plaque to commemorate the Cathy Freeman Stand. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

Freeman’s dash today, like Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’, John Aloisi’s penalty goal and even Sam Kerr’s wonder strike against England, almost gets better with age.

Eyes turn to the Great Southern Screen, all 120 metres long of it, to watch a mash-up of vision of that famous race.

There are wide angles, close-ups, panoramas. McAvaney’s words are plastered 10 metres high across the screen.

And it’s like you’re back there watching afresh. Your arm hairs prickle. And you’re cheering her on: Go on Cathy. Go our girl.

Cathy Freeman beaming after the unveiling of the Cathy Freeman Stand at Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

We see her shoot out the blocks, streaking around the track in that green-and-gold space-suit.

And there she goes, and she’s flying, leaning into the corners like a Ducati, equal parts pace, grace and power.

And you think: Man, she could move, Cathy Freeman. Her running style was beautiful. It seemed effortless.

It was the best in the world that fine night in Sydney, and we roared her home on the final turn and as she drew away in the last 40, 30, 20, 10 … gold.

You beauty.

Cathy Freeman and Bruce McAvaney relive that night in September, 2000. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

It took effort, of course. That was plain to see after she’d crossed the line and sat on her bum on the track, the suit’s hood off her head, arms resting on her knees, breathing like a bellows, oxygen like balm for her lungs.

Soon enough, though, she was up and dancing about, waving the flags of her country and of her people, this shy country kid, beaming for Australia, for her mum and dad and family, for herself.

What a night. What a ride she took us on, so many years in the making.

Cathy Freeman and Bruce McAvaney remember the 400m final of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

As McAvaney explains on stage, since running second in Atlanta to arch-rival Marie-José Pérec – the Frenchwoman who fled Sydney after seeing building-sized posters of Freeman on the skyscrapers outside her Darling Harbour hotel room – Freeman won 43 of her 44 races, the one loss in Oslo in ’98 when she was injured.

She was all we could talk about. For four years we looked forward to the 400-metre final, Freeman versus Perec versus the world.

Ten metres from glory for Cathy Freeman in the 400m final in Sydney 2000. Pic: National Museum of Australia.

McAvaney asks about her confidence on the night.

“In terms of percentages, it was mainly confidence,” she replies. “But there was also that human component, a feeling of fragility, of self-doubt.

“Talking to Warwick on the way here – sorry, Warwick, our driver – you just don’t know what’s going to happen in big sporting moments. Those not expected to do well can do well. And vice versa.

“There’s a side that’s deep within. I said to my coach before I left him, will you still love me if I don’t win.

“There’s a duality.”

A country girl at heart: Cathy Freeman was humbled and delighted with the unveiling of the Cathy Freeman Stand at Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

Then she emerged onto the arena where 112,000 people roared her name.

And she flicked the switch. She moved from Cathy the barefoot kid from housing commission in Mackay to Cathy Freeman: athlete; arse-kicker; animal.

She was in her realm.

“Once I got out there and I was in my element, as sports people are, and I’m at the start line … you just switch on and the competitive juices start flowing,” she tells McAvaney. “And you’re so determined and very clear on what you need to do.

“I won’t swear – but you get very aggressive.

“I was born to be an Olympic champion.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

And now, after a public process to name Australia’s greatest female athlete, the great state of NSW has named a great eastern stand after her.

Freeman is the first woman so-honoured in NSW.

Premier Minns tells media: “Everybody remembers where they were when Cathy Freeman produced her historic 400-metre race to win gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympics.

“I want the next generation of young girls to watch sport at this stadium, looking up at the Cathy Freeman Stand, thinking about their own sporting dreams.”

South Sydney Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium

Season and More on the Line for Rabbitohs V Roosters at Accor Stadium

By Matt Cleary

Once upon a time, so the story goes, a family of South Sydney Rabbitohs supporters owned a pet rabbit that they called ‘Ron Coote’.

The animal was named after the champion NSW, Australia and Rabbitohs lock and captain who won four premierships with South Sydney in a storied 208-game career.

Outside John Sattler and the Immortal player and coach Clive Churchill there was no more popular Rabbits man than the great Ron Coote.

Yet when he left Redfern at the end of 1971 to join arch-rivals Eastern Suburbs Roosters, the family wrote Coote a letter informing him that so disappointed were they with his transfer that they had cooked and eaten the rabbit.

It was one of the more cordial reactions.

Coote was cursed by Souths fans. And not just sworn at but actually cursed. A lady who identified as a gypsy declared that following Coote’s ‘betrayal’ of the Bunnies he would forever be blighted by bad luck.

Coote would go on to win two premierships with the Roosters, buy into a new restaurant franchise called “McDonald’s”, and co-found the Men of League (today the Family of League) Foundation.

And on Friday night, the Rabbitohs and Roosters will play for the Ron Coote Cup.

As ever, there is much more than just two premiership points to play for.

The neighbouring territories have long enmity about ‘stealing’ one another’s players. They argue today about who’s the ‘Silvertail’ and who the ‘Fibro’.

They half-joke that north-south running Coogee Bay Road is ‘The Gaza Strip’.

Alex Johnston (No.2) scored five tries in Souths’ 60-8 flogging of the Roosters in 2020. Picture:

It is the game’s greatest and most intense rivalry.

And Friday night’s game promises to be as intense as any played in the 115 year history of matches between the Foundation Clubs from 1908.

Because on Friday night at Accor Stadium both clubs’ seasons are on the line.

The Roosters are in 10th position on the NRL ladder on 30 points. The Rabbitohs are in eighth position – also on 30 points.

With so much on the line fans can expect fierce defence on Friday night. Picture: South Sydney Rabbitohs

If the Roosters lose, they’re gone.

If the Rabbitohs lose, they’re gone.

And thus tickets are selling quickly with upwards of 35,000 fans expected in.

A crowd upwards of 35,000 fans is expected on Friday night at Accor Stadium. Picture: Accor Stadium.

On a sad note, pre-match both teams will observe a minute’s silence for much-loved Rabbitohs player No.1100 and 2014 premiership winner Kyle Turner.

It’s also Rabbitohs’ Old Boys Day, when the club’s past players form a guard of honour as the first grade side charges onto the field.

And then, post-match, when the gladiators have bled their last, the winning captain will be presented with the Ron Coote Cup.

And presenting it? None other than Ron Coote.

Doesn’t seem that curse worked.

Rabbitohs vs Roosters

Friday 01 September.

5:45pm    Gates Open

5:50pm    Kick Off: U18 – Botany Rams v Clovelly Crocs

8:00pm    Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership – Rabbitohs v Roosters

Top Tips:

Plan to arrive early at the Stadium, leaving plenty of time for the entry process and to find your seat.

Pre-purchase tickets online via Ticketek to beat any queues at the box office. Download and share your tickets with your group before arriving at the Stadium.

To ensure a smooth entry, please leave large bags at home.

Consider all your transport options and travel with your group.

All tickets to Rabbitohs home games at Accor Stadium include travel on Sydney Trains, Metro and Light Rail services. Visit for more information and to plan your trip.

Trains run regularly to Olympic Park station from Lidcombe every 10 minutes until late. Accor Stadium is a short walk from the station.

Remember – Accor Stadium is a cashless venue.

State of Origin DrinkWise campaign launched at Accor Stadium

Ahead of a blockbuster Ampol State of Origin Game 3 on Wednesday night, Accor Stadium today hosted the launch of the Always Respect, always DrinkWise awareness campaign.

A joint initiative between the NSW Government, NSW Police Force, the National Rugby League, DrinkWise, 1800RESPECT and 13YARN, the campaign aims to remind the community about the importance of moderating alcohol consumption and always being respectful towards others.

With the NSW Blues desperate for their first win of the State of Origin series, a crowd of 80,000 is expected in the Stadium and NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden encouraged all Blues fans and visitors from Queensland to be mindful of others when supporting their teams.

“Wherever you’re watching the State of Origin game, be responsible, look out for one another and if you’re seeing or experiencing anything that puts you or anyone else at risk, please contact the police or relevant support service.

“If you’re planning to have a drink, then please don’t think about driving at all – catch public transport or designate a driver so that you can get home safely,” Mr McFadden said.

NSW Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism, Yasmin Catley, flanked by NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden and DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan. Picture:

A key message for fans is that all tickets to State of Origin Game 3 include travel to and from Sydney Olympic Park on public transport, including Sydney Trains, Major Event Buses and Light Rail services.

Fans are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the fact transport is included in their tickets and to leave the car at home.

With a full house expected, fans are strongly advised to leave additional travel time and ARRIVE EARLY in the Stadium precinct.

Respect: Drinking responsibly and in moderation is a key message of the Always Respect, always DrinkWise campaign. Picture:

NSW Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism, Yasmin Catley, said: “The Always Respect, always DrinkWise message helps reminds all fans and everyone about being respectful to those they live with and the wider community at all times.”

Ms Catley added that “Origin is always a time for NSW fans to show their unwavering support for the Blues”.

“But let’s make sure that those around us also enjoy the experience, which means if you are having a drink while watching the game make sure it’s in moderation,” Ms Catley said.

DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan said it’s very important for fans to have the chance to enjoy themselves and celebrate, and to be mindful of their consumption.

NRL Executive General Manager of Partnerships Jaymes Boland-Rudder urged fans to drink responsibly so they may enjoy the great moments Origin has to offer.

Macca and the Mortimers: Rabbitohs and Bulldogs to honour club greats

By Matt Cleary

FROM 1963 to 1978, Bob McCarthy played 211 games for South Sydney Rabbitohs and 40 games for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (nee Berries). And it’s safe to say no-one had seen anything like him.

A solidly-built back rower, McCarthy was the first forward to dominate wide of the ruck, effectively running like a centre-three-quarter but built like a bullock. He scored 100 tries for Souths and won four premierships, and scored 21 tries in two seasons at Canterbury.

As McCarthy’s 16-season career ended, so began that of Steve Mortimer, who was closely followed to Belmore Oval (from Wagga Wagga) by brothers Peter and Chris.

Steve was the champion halfback with a brilliant chip-and-chase and the game’s best grass-cutting cover defence.

Centres Peter and Chris formed a potent and complementary pairing – skilful, fleet-footed, robust.

From left-right Steve, Chris and Peter Mortimer with their children after the 1985 grand final. Picture: Peter Mortimer.

The trio would win premierships with Canterbury in 1980, 1984 and 1985 while Steve’s last game was off the bench in the Dogs’ grand final win in 1988.

The brothers all represented NSW (Steve and Chris also played for Australia) and would play a combined 715 first grade games.

Another brother, Glen, played 26 games for Cronulla while Steve was a distinguished Stadium Australia board member for several years.

Bob McCarthy (right) pounding the streets of Redfern in steel-studded football boots alongside fellow Souths legends Eric Simms (centre, barefoot) and John Sattler (left, possibly in Dunlop Volleys). Picture: Supplied.

It’s fitting, then, that on Saturday night the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs will play for the Mortimer-McCarthy Cup, which will raise money for the Family of League Foundation.

Bulldogs chief Aaron Warburton said the club is “forever indebted” to the services of McCarthy and the Mortimer family.

“The Mortimer-McCarthy Cup is a fitting tribute to the Mortimer brothers and Bob McCarthy, who represent an era of rugby league that was tough, honest, and built on mateship.

“We are a community club and we are proud to play a small role in helping raise funds and awareness for the brilliant work that the Family of League does,” Warburton said.

Rabbitohs players celebrate Alex Johnston (No.2) breaking South Sydney’s all-time try-scoring record. Picture: NRL.

The round 19 fixture will be the teams’ first hit-out since Souths ran riot 50-16 on Good Friday.

The Dogs will be keen to erase memories of last week’s 66-0 hammering by Newcastle.

South Sydney, meanwhile, sit seventh on the ladder, and will need a win to maintain contact with the Top-8 front-runners.

As ever there’ll be many eyes on speed machines Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs) and Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs).

Johnston is currently equal-third with Steve Menzies on the all-time try-scorers list with 180 tries.

He is also the leading all-time try-scorer at Accor Stadium with 84 tries in 87 games.

Addo-Carr has scored 21 tries in 19 games at the stadium including a stunning six tries while playing for Melbourne Storm against Souths in 2021.

Bulldogs flier Josh Addo-Carr celebrates another try for the Dogs at Accor Stadium. Picture: Ayush Kumar.

Before the match there’ll be a function to support men, women and children of the grassroots rugby league community who need physical, financial or emotional support.

The dinner is officially sold out but donations can be made via the Family of League website.

For all match-day information including transport and ticketing, click here.

Picture: Ayush Kumar.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Saturday 08 July

4:55pm: Gates Open

5:10pm: Kick Off: Knock-On Effect NSW Cup – Rabbitohs v Bulldogs

7:35pm: Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership – Rabbitohs v Bulldogs

Dead rubber? Please! Why Blues and Maroons don’t play friendlies

Special Report by Matt Cleary

JUST as the concept of a ‘friendly’ does not exist in Australian sport so too are there no ‘dead rubbers’ in a State of Origin rugby league series.

For any player the idea is anathema. Whether one-up, two-down, all square, they play for their State, their people, the jumper and all who’ve worn it. There is nothing dead about an Origin game.

As for friendly? Forget it. They’re anything but friendly. And whatever the status of the series, players tear out for their tribes, one hundred per cent committed.

And when at home, and down 2-0, the desire ratchets up again.

NSW Blues captain James Tedesco faces one of the great challenges of his storied career. Picture: NSWRL.

The current crop of NSW Blues has the added incentive of avoiding a clean sweep and putting a dampener on Queensland’s post-series celebrations.

For Queensland, a sweep would be sweet indeed. Billy Slater‘s team could be just the seventh Origin side to sweep a series in 42 outings.

A Queensland win will mean Slater becomes just the fourth Origin coach after Wayne Pearce, Mal Meninga and Paul Vautin to play in and coach a clean sweep.

Yet NSW will be arguably more motivated.

Nobody within the Blues setup – players, coaches, fans, anyone – wants to go down three-nil in a series.

And running out in front of 80,000 people will be a huge motivator for the home team.

Yet, as in any Origin, pressure’s on.

Under pressure: NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler may be fighting for his Origin career. Pic: NSWRL.

With three series wins in six outings, NSW coach Brad Fittler may need a big win to keep his job after making seven changes to the side that was flogged 32-6 in game two in Brisbane.

One of the new players is Parramatta Eels fullback Clint Gutherson while the consistently excellent Penrith Panthers custodian Dylan Edwards would not have been far away from a call-up.

Both men excel in James Tedesco’s fullback position. As do injured stars Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.

Tedesco is a champion, however, and will have a point to prove Wednesday night.

Never, ever, as they say, write off a champion. Picture: Phil Hilyard

Helping him is the Blues’ formidable record at home.

In 30 Origin games at Accor Stadium, NSW has won 19, lost 10 and drawn one.

Of the first 11 games played at Accor Stadium, NSW won 10 including the famous 56-16 game in 2000 when Bryan Fletcher’s post-try ‘hand grenade’ celebrations had Queenslanders seething.

The drawn game was in 2002 when Gorden Tallis ripped off a famous ‘rag-doll’ tackle on Brett Hodgson and 35-year-old Allan Langer returned from England to help square the series and thus retain the State of Origin shield for Queensland. Langer was also named man-of-the-match.

Even during Queensland’s decade of dominance in which they trotted out several of the greatest players of all time and won 10 series in 11 years, NSW still won six games at Accor Stadium to Queensland’s nine. The average margin of victory for either team was 4.8 points.

As ever, Blatchy’s Blues will be a huge presence at the northern end of Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

On Wednesday night the Blues will take their first steps towards the ground via a tunnel adorned with images of past Blues greats.

They’ll then emerge onto the field to a wall of noise, much of it coming from the 10,000-strong ‘Blatchy’s Blues’ supporters group who’ll nearly fill the the northern end.

Fans will be entertained pre-match by Accor Stadium’s light show which will showcase New Zealand super-group SIX60 who will play a selection of mega-hits including the triple-platinum selling single ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’.

Blatchy’s Blues always bring the colour to Accor Stadium. Picture: Ayush Kumar.

Ampol State of Origin Game 3 will be the first of a trifecta of massive sporting events for Greater Sydney with the Wallabies taking on Argentina at CommBank Stadium on Saturday 15 July before the eyes of world football turn to Accor Stadium when Australia Matildas play Republic of Ireland in the Matildas’ opening game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 on Thursday 20 July.

5:30pm: Gates Open

6:00pm: Kick Off: RISE Academy NSW Blue v NSW Navy

7:30pm: Pre-match Entertainment Commences.

8:05pm: Kick Off: Ampol State of Origin Game III – Westpac Blues versus Something Maroons.

For further match-day information, including transport and ticketing, click here.

Mark Hughes Channels Spirit of The Bulldogs in Fight Against Brain Cancer

Special Report by Matt Cleary

MARK HUGHES, who may sell a millionth beanie for brain cancer on Sunday afternoon at Accor Stadium, has history with the venue and with the home-team the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

He was part of the Newcastle Knights side that played the first game at Stadium Australia, March 6 1999, when the Knights beat Manly 41-18 in front of a world record crowd of 104,583.

In 2001 he was fullback for NSW Blues in their 26-8 win over Queensland.

By late September of 2001 he was in the centres when the Knights ambushed Parramatta Eels in the NRL Grand Final.

Yet it wasn’t all roses on-field for the popular clubman.

“I remember we lost a Preliminary Final [28-16] against the Bulldogs that went to extra time [in 1998],” Hughes says. “We were up 16-0 and they just kept coming. Darryl Halligan kicked everything.

“A week later he did it to Parramatta and the Dogs went on a run to the Grand Final.”

Mark Hughes (left) with team-mates Adam ‘Mad Dog’ MacDougall and Danny Buderus (right) celebrate with the 2001 NRL Premiership trophy. Photo:

The Bulldogs’ spirit in that comeback game inspires Hughes today as it always has. He grew up a Parramatta Eels fan but had always admired the Bulldogs, particularly Warren ‘Wok’ Ryan’s ‘Dogs of War’.

“I remember those tough guys, their forwards, and guys like Terry Lamb and the Mortimer brothers.

“When I was 18 I played first grade at Kurri Kurri with [1991 Rothman’s Medal winner] Ewan McGrady.

“At the Knights we were coached by Wok and he was always about instilling hardness and fight in players,” Hughes says.

It’s an ethos that has served Hughes well. For he remains in the fight of his life.

The Mark Hughes Foundation hopes to raise another $3.5 million for research into brain cancer. Photo: Grant Trouville / NRL Photos.

The origin story of he and wife Kirralee’s Mark Hughes Foundation – which has raised $24 million for brain cancer research – is known well enough: aged 36 Hughes had headaches that wouldn’t go away. He was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer.

He had three young children. His world was upended. There followed surgery, chemotherapy, radiation.

Today he’s a fit 46-year-old though he’s not ‘clear’ of cancer. He lives with it. And every four months he checks it hasn’t come back to bite him.

“There is no cure,” Hughes says. “I fight for myself and for my family, and for everyone living with brain cancer.

“We started the foundation 12 years ago and it’s been brilliant to see the rugby league community get around it.

“You can’t thank people enough – but the job isn’t done.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson has accompanied Mark Hughes on several fund-raising expeditions. Photo: Grant Trouville / NRL Photos.

Hughes says he’s very proud of the University of Newcastle’s Mark Hughes Foundation Centre for Brain Cancer Research where “the best experts in the field collaborate for a cure and change the lives of thousands of patients diagnosed with brain cancer each year”.

“This drives critical research, education and health care improvements at a national scale,” according to Hughes.

Beanies will be on sale at Accor Stadium for $25 at MHF stalls at Aisles 110 and 132, as well as in the Family Fun Zone.

To grab a beanie online or find a stockist near you, check out the MHF website.

Beanies will be on sale at all NRL games this weekend, at IGA and Lowes stores, and via the MHF website. Photo: MHF.

Fans are encouraged to get in early as the match doubles as Bulldogs’ Ambassadors Round. Pre-match the club will honour and celebrate the career of former captain Josh Jackson.

For all match-day information including transport and ticketing, check out the Bulldogs website.

11:15am: Gates Open

11:30am: Kick Off: Knock-On Effect NSW Cup – Bulldogs v Knights

2:00pm: Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership – Bulldogs v Knights

Brain Cancer by the Numbers:

  • Only two in 10 people diagnosed will live more than five years;
  • It kills more people under 40 than any other cancer;
  • Receives less than five per cent of federal funding for cancer research;
  • One person every five hours is diagnosed in Australia;
  • Survival rates have increased by one per cent over the last 30 years;
Josh Addo-Carr at Accor Stadium

King’s Birthday Bash: Bulldogs and Eels to contest second annual I4Give Cup

By Matt Cleary

CANTERBURY Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels will contest the second annual I4Give Cup at Accor Stadium on Monday, a match which also marks the NRL’s first King’s Birthday long weekend fixture.

Played in honour of the Abdallah Family, who continue to spread a message of forgiveness after losing three children and their niece in a car accident in Oatlands in 2020, the I4Give Cup is an initiative between the Bulldogs, Eels and the I4Give Foundation.

I4Give founder, father and Bulldogs fan Danny Abdallah spoke to Canterbury players on Thursday and will present the I4Give Cup to the winning captain on Monday.

Last year was a big one for Mr Abdallah and his wife Leila who addressed the World Meeting of Families at The Vatican in Rome, joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and presented the I4Give Cup to Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson following the Dogs’ shock 34-4 win over Parramatta at Accor Stadium. 

Josh Jackson (right) receives the 2022 I4Give Cup from Danny Abdallah and sons. Pic: Grant Trouville / NRL Photos.

Storylines abound for Monday’s match, which kicks off at 4pm.

A big game up front against Eels enforcers Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard should secure Tevita Pangai Jnr‘s position in the Blues team ahead of State of Origin game two in Brisbane.

With Blues halfback Nathan Cleary injured, Bulldogs captain Matt Burton and Eels ace Mitchell Moses could play their way into NSW coach Brad Fittler’s notebook.

Another looking to cement his spot in Fittler’s little blue book is Bulldogs flier Josh Addo-Carr. ‘The Foxx’ has scored 21 tries in 18 games at Accor Stadium including a hat-trick in last year’s I4Give Cup.

Yet Addo-Carr faces a significant hurdle given he’s named to line up against Eels powerhouse Maika Sivo, the blockbusting Fijian who has scored 45 tries in his last 50 games.

Josh Addo-Carr celebrates another try at Accor Stadium. Pic: Ayush Kumar.

On a lighter note and given the royal theme, live-wire Eels captain Clint Gutherson will be well aware of the public holiday’s significance given some years ago he proclaimed himself ‘King Gutho’.

The Eels have won eight of their last 10 games against the Bulldogs at Accor Stadium.

The Dogs are coming off a tight, one-point loss to the Roosters while the Eels will be refreshed following a bye.

Both teams sit outside the Top-8 and will be desperate to keep themselves in the 2023 premiership hunt.

Key Times:

1:25pm: Gates open

1:40pm: Knock-on Effect NSW Cup – Bulldogs v Eels

4:00pm: NRL Telstra Premiership – Bulldogs v Eels

Top Tips: Click here for info on the best game day experience at Accor Stadium.

La Perouse junior and 200-game try-scoring wizard Alex Johnston back at Accor Stadium for Junior Appreciation Round

By Matt Cleary

ALEX JOHNSTON returns to Accor Stadium on Saturday with 200 NRL games and 171 tries to his name.

That he notched a double last weekend in Magic Round against Melbourne Storm would have come as little surprise to Rabbitohs fans. Johnston is Souths’ all-time try-scoring record holder and has the most tries at Accor Stadium (82) ahead of fellow Rabbitoh Nathan Merritt (70) and Josh Morris (68).

On Saturday all league fans will have the chance to celebrate the star winger’s landmark in the round 11 match against Wests Tigers.

The humble 28-year-old will bolt onto the playing surface through a purpose-built banner while thousands of fans will don AJ facemasks. A presentation post-match will be attended by supporters gathered on Accor Stadium’s turf for ‘Fans on the Field’.

The fixture is part of Souths’ Junior Appreciation Round and will kick-off at the family-friendly time of 3pm.

There’ll be a “super-charged Kids Zone” at Gate K/J, march-pasts of players from South Sydney’s junior competition, and lucky ‘junior mascots’ who will walk onto Accor Stadium with their heroes.

That Johnston is one of seven local juniors suiting up for Souths on Saturday is a happy coincidence.

Alex Johnston is mobbed by Rabbitohs team-mates after breaking the all-time South Sydney try-scoring record in 2022. Pic:

Johnston played junior league for La Perouse Panthers, as did another try-scoring wizard, Josh Addo-Carr, and former NSW Origin speedster James Roberts.

Other Souths juniors who’ll run out for the Rabbitohs on Saturday include Cameron Murray (Mascot) and Campbell Graham (Coogee Wombats and Maroubra Lions).

Blake Taafe (La Perouse Panthers) will be the Bunnies’ No.18 while Peter Mamouzelos (Maroubra Lions) and Dean Hawkins (Matraville Tigers) were named on Souths’ extended bench.

Wrecking ball Keaon Kolomatangi (Mascot) is injured.

Along with the juniors, Saturday will be, effectively, ‘AJ Appreciation Day’.

It’s acknowledgement of a man whose numbers are approaching those of the greatest try-scorer ever.

Alex Johnston (front row, second from right) with all-conquering La Perouse Panthers. Pic: La Perouse Panthers.

As stats guru and author of the 2022 Official Rugby League Annual, David Middleton, would tell you, North Sydney Bears and Manly Sea Eagles legend Ken Irvine holds the all-time try-scoring record of 212 tries in 236 games at the rate of 0.89 tries per game.

Johnston’s 171 tries in 200 games come at a strike-rate is 0.85 tries per game.

It’s estimated that if he continues at his current rate of try-scoring Johnston could pass Irvine’s record in his 250th NRL game which – touch plenty of wood, all things going well for him – could happen early in 2025.

Johnston’s 30th birthday will be on Anzac Day, April 25, 2025.

Just putting it out there.

Magic: Alex Johnston’s try-scoring strike-rate (0.85 tries per game) is seventh-best on the all-time list behind Harold Horder, Reg Gasnier, Frank Burge, Ray Preston, Ken Irvine and Ian Moir. Pic:

Middleton will tell you that Irvine scored four tries in a game … seven times.

Middleton will also tell you that Johnston twice did something Irvine never did – scored five tries in a single game.

Irvine has nine hat-tricks.

Johnston has 10 hat-tricks.

The chances of Johnston adding another one against Wests Tigers on Saturday afternoon should not be discounted. In the corresponding game last year, in Indigenous Round, Johnston scored a hat-trick against the Tigers while also over-taking Merritt’s record for most tries for Souths.

The Rabbitohs have named the same 17 players that belted Melbourne Storm 28-12 in Brisbane, while Wests Tigers welcome back the X-factor from England, John Bateman, into the team that beat St George Illawarra Dragons 18-16.

Match Day schedule:

12:25Gates Open
12:40Kick Off: Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Rabbitohs v Western Suburbs Magpies:
15:00Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership, Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers

Match Day Top Tips:

Easter Showstoppers! Why Bulldogs v Rabbitohs on Good Friday and Wests Tigers v Parra Eels Easter Monday will take you on the best rides this weekend

By Matt Cleary

THE Easter Bunny and a colony of giant ones from South Sydney are coming to Accor Stadium this Good Friday where a pack of guard dogs from Canterbury will defend ‘their’ house.

On Easter Monday there’ll be a second helping of rugby league action when Wests Tigers play host to Parramatta Eels in a Western Sydney derby both teams – and their legions of fans – will be frothing to win.

The traditional Easter fixtures at the family-friendly time of 4pm kick-off are, as ever, expected to attract two of the biggest regular-season NRL crowds in Sydney this year as many fans enjoy the Royal Easter Show before making their way to the former Olympic Stadium for the footy.

Important: with 100,000 people expected in Sydney Olympic Park on both days, planning ahead is highly advised.

Desperate Derby: Tigers to Host Eels on Easter Monday

Wests Tigers will host Parramatta Eels on Easter Monday and both sets of fans will be desperate to win. Pic: Wests Tigers

The first Easter Monday match was played between Wests Tigers and Parramatta Eels in 2014 and attracted 50,688 fans to Accor Stadium.

In 2019 the game was played at CommBank Stadium when the Eels christened #PARRAdise with a famous 51-6 flogging of the Tigers.

Last season Wests Tigers had their revenge with a 21-20 win in a CommBank Stadium sell-out.

The teams have played eight matches on Easter Monday for four wins each.

The teams have one win in 10 games between them this season.   The teams have very good players, yet questions abound . . .

Key man: Can Api Koroisau spark the Wests Tigers to a win over their western Sydney rivals?

Can John Bateman and Api Koroisau ignite the Tigers?

Who will run harder: David Klemmer at Reagan Campbell-Gillard? Or Reagan Campbell-Gillard at David Klemmer?

Will Maika Sivo be motivated by the spray he received from inspirational Eels captain, Clint Gutherson, during an ordinary outing against Sydney Roosters last Thursday night?

And if it comes down to it, who of the mercurial yet maligned halves quartet of Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks, Dylan Brown or Adam Doueihi might lift their club out of their early-season slump with a match-winning pass, 40/20 or field goal?

From 4pm on Monday we’ll find out.

Easter Monday Hot Tips

  • The match is a Wests Tigers home game and club Members will have access via digital or physical membership cards. HOWEVER: Wests Tigers Members MUST redeem their tickets online via Ticketek. Member cards will not scan at the gates.
    • Enter the barcode found on their physical or digital Membership card into the password section and click ‘Unlock Tickets’. Read full information on our event page.
  • Eels Members do not have access to this ‘away’ game, and therefore must purchase a valid ticket.
  • Parking is SOLD OUT. Do not drive to Sydney Olympic Park unless you have pre-booked parking.
  • Take advantage of the fact ALL match-day tickets and Accor Stadium Memberships include return travel to and from Olympic Park on public transport, including Sydney Buses, Major Event Buses, Sydney Trains, Metro and Light Rail.
  • Visit for more information on transport arrangements for this match and to plan your trip.
  • It is highly recommended that patrons pre-purchase tickets online via Ticketek before arriving at the Stadium.
  • Plan travel ahead of time and arrive early to the precinct.
  • Gates open at 1:25pm ahead of the 1:40pm kick-off of the NSW Cup game.
  • Easter Show Bags welcome!

Great Good Friday: Dogs to Guard House Against Rabbits from the South

Canterbury Bulldogs are two-and-three after five rounds of the NRL season 2023. South Sydney Rabbitohs are, too. Pic: Bulldogs.

The NRL’s Good Friday match has been running since 2012 and has averaged crowds of 36,000. The largest crowd was in 2013 when 51,686 fans saw Souths win 17-12.

The two famous clubs have provided stellar entertainment since.

There was a Golden Point win to Canterbury (2014), a 38-nil thrashing by Souths (2021) and the infamous Night of the Bottles when 40,523 fans saw Souths win a passionate affair 18-17 in 2015.

Super boot Matt Burton will be a key player for Canterbury Bulldogs in their Good Friday clash with South Sydney Rabbitohs. Pic:

The match-ups on Friday are mouth-watering.

Matt Burton’s super-bombs versus the all-action manouevres of Cody Walker.

Englishmen Ryan Sutton (Dogs) and Tom Burgess (Rabbits) will rip in up front as compatriots James Graham and Sam Burgess famously did in the 2014 Grand Final at this very ground.

Hooker Reed Mahoney has been outstanding for the Bulldogs and will likely appear in the Maroon of Queensland opposite South Sydney and NSW Blues veteran Damien Cook.

There’s also Latrell Mitchell. And that guy can do anything.

Except, maybe, run down Josh Addo-Carr, the flying excitement machine who has scored 20 tries in his last 15 games at Accor Stadium, including a record six in one game when playing for Melbourne Storm – against the Rabbitohs.

Should be a cracker.

Good Friday Hot Tips

  • The match is a Bulldogs home game but both clubs’ Members will have access via digital or physical membership cards.
  • Bulldogs Members will sit on the West; Souths Members on the East (the railway side of the Stadium).
  • Precinct parking is SOLD OUT. Do not drive to Sydney Olympic Park unless you have pre-booked parking.
  • Take advantage of the fact ALL match-day and Members tickets (including Accor Stadium Members) include return travel to and from Olympic Park on public transport, including Sydney Buses, Major Event Buses, Sydney Trains, Metro and Light Rail.
  • Visit for more information on transport arrangements for this match and to plan your trip.
  • It is highly recommended that patrons pre-purchase tickets online via Ticketek before arriving at the Stadium.
  • Plan travel ahead of time and arrive early to the precinct.
  • Gates open at 1:25pm ahead of the 1:40pm kick-off of the NSW Cup game.
  • Easter Show Bags are welcome!

Event Partners