City Vs. Country NRL Match Here To Stay -- At Least Until 2017

It’s a bloodbath. NRL City v Country Origin match in Dubbo, 2006. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

NRL chief Dave Smith has ensured the annual City Vs. Country match will continue despite rumours it could be axed after numerous players withdrew from both sides in the lead-up to this Sunday’s game in Dubbo.

Smith told Fox: “The people of country NSW love their rugby league and we love taking games to them.

“This match gives some of our young stars of the future a taste of representative football — and it will deliver significant economic benefits for Dubbo.”

The head of NRL Commercial also confirmed match is locked in as a permanent fixture for at least another three years as part of the television rights deal.

The fresh faces to replace injured City duo Wade Graham and Trent Hodkinson will be Eels player Darcy Lussick and Jamie Buhrer of the Sea Eagles. Penrith’s Tyrone Peachey will be the new 18th man.

Meanwhile David Mead of the Titans and the Knights’ Robbie Rochow have been called to play for the Country side after Dragons trio Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin and Tyson Frizell all were ruled out with injury. Cronulla’s Michael Lichaa will also replace injured Country player Aidan Sezer.

The game will give NSW coach Laurie Daley a chance to do some last minute poaching for the State of Origin series opener on May 28.

Dubbo Mayor Mathew Dickerson has predicted a record crowd of 15,000 for event.

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