- NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence has been officially opened in Sydney Olympic Park;
- A private tunnel directly links the new world-class centre to Stadium Australia’s field;
- Blues coach Brad Fittler described the tunnel and facilities as a game-changer for rugby league;
- The Centre of Excellence includes a full-sized playing and training field adjacent to the building;
- State of Origin Game III will be held at Stadium Australia on Wednesday 10 July.
Crystelle Cordero and NSWRL Media
THE blue carpet was rolled out today for the official opening of NSWRL’s multi-million dollar, world-class Centre of Excellence in Sydney Olympic Park.
Just a stone’s throw from Stadium Australia, the new centre has been hailed as an “absolute game-changer” and the “best Rugby League facility in the world”.
NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon. Stuart Ayres, unveiled the building in front of almost 200 guests including NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis OAM, Chief Executive David Trodden and Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler.
Other True Blues in attendance included Laurie Daley, Wayne Pearce, Andrew Johns, Steve Mortimer, Steve Roach and Paul Sironen.
Fittler, whose new office overlooks the training field, said he was blown away by the facilities.
“The tunnel [to Stadium Australia], the warm up and recovery facilities are A-class. This is a game changer for a lot of people. We can do a lot of good here, not just for current players but for young kids as well.”
NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis described the facility as the beginning of a new era.
“The NSWRL had a vision in 2015 to take an already existing culture of best practice to another level,” Peponis said.
“At the time the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues had completed a memorable State of Origin series win over Queensland the previous year to end a long run of outs against the Maroons.
“The NSWRL recognised then it was important for the Blues, and all our representative teams, to have a permanent home and state-of-the-art facility to fully realise their potential.”
NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon. Stuart Ayres, said: “This is a home for everyone in NSW Rugby League – men, women, volunteers, professionals, players and officials. It’s a centre of excellence for all.
“It’s a state-of-the-art facility for Rugby League in NSW and will help grow the sport by providing a pathway for junior representative sides through to the men’s and women’s NSW State of Origin teams.
“Investments like this ensure, as we renew Sydney Olympic Park, sport remains firmly embedded in the DNA of the park.”
The Centre of Excellence was completed on budget and ahead of schedule in December 2018 and will be the new home of the NSWRL for the next 40 years, and will also house Country Rugby League, Men of League Foundation, KARI Foundation and the University of New England.
The Centre of Excellence includes a full-sized playing and training field adjacent to the building with direct access to a gymnasium, a tunnel linking the Centre of Excellence to Stadium Australia to be used exclusively by the players on game night, a change room which allows Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler to make eye contact with every player, recovery facilities and medical treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy room, a Blues-themed café and museum.
In addition, the Centre of Excellence also includes function and hospitality space for dining and entertainment that will enable guests to watch the team train on the adjacent field, and a 60-person lecture theatre for presentations, media conferences and post-game team analysis.
“This new Centre of Excellence is an absolute game-changer for NSWRL,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.
“It’s not a stretch to say this is the best high-performance facility in the Rugby League world.
“For everybody in the NSWRL family, whether it’s State of Origin players or pathways players or women’s players or our wheelchair team, to have access to the best Rugby League facility in the world is fantastic for our game and something that will take it to new levels.
“We’ve inherited a wonderful legacy from the administrators who preceded us and we have an obligation to make sure we leave a legacy for those that follow us and hopefully with a facility like this we’ve gone part of the way to discharging that legacy we owe to future generations.”
The NSWRL’s partners were also thrilled to be part of the Centre of Excellence.
Country Rugby League Chief Executive Terry Quinn said: “We’re excited to be part of the NSWRL Centre of Excellence and believe it will become, and continue to be, a wonderful asset for Rugby League at all levels in the state of New South Wales.
“The Board and Members of Country Rugby League have strongly supported the creation of the Centre of Excellence and that support has been well justified by the state-of-the-art facility you see today.”
Vice Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Annabelle Duncan said: “We are excited about the opportunities our partnership with NSWRL will bring for our students, both regionally and in greater Western Sydney and the outreach and development programs for our wider New England North West community.
“Through this centre, our world-class sports scientists will support NSWRL with research into player performance and development, and give our students access to research programs linked to elite sporting teams.
“UNE pioneered flexible, remote learning and the Paul Broughton OAM Research Centre will give us a greater presence in Western Sydney to benefit both our Armidale-based and online students.”
KARI Foundation Chief Executive Casey Ralph said: “We are extremely proud and excited to be a part of the new Centre of Excellence.
“We are keen to work closely with the NSWRL and the other Centre partners in our combined efforts to deliver meaningful and sustainable programs and initiatives that benefit the community.”
Men of League Foundation Chief Executive Stephen Lowndes said: “The Men of League Foundation is absolutely thrilled with our national office’s new premises in the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.
“Apart from the excellent amenity within the new building, simply the day-to-day interactions afforded with the NSWRL and the CRL staff really helps establish relations with the heartland of NSW Rugby League – which is so important to the work of our Foundation and the people we support.
“And I’m really looking forward to exploring the synergies with the Kari Foundation and Indigenous members of the Rugby League community in need of support.”
Centre of Excellence features
Full-length playing and training field
On-field access to state-of-the-art gymnasium
Tunnel linking Centre of Excellence to Stadium Australia
Hydrotherapy centre with plunge and resistance pools
Medical and recovery rooms
Dining and lounge area for players/guests
Media theatre with seating for 60 guests
Media editing suite