If you want to think rugby league outposts, look no further than Darwin. A city that will host a competitive first grade rugby league match for the first time in what seems an eternity this coming weekend. Rugby league itself has had its ups and downs. Rugby league in Darwin has been a hell ride.
The first rugby league competition in Darwin was played in 1941. Because of all things, World War II. Australian servicemen based in the area took it upon themselves to create their own league. Through the struggles of war came rugby league in Darwin.
Teams included the Royal Australian Air Force, Navy, Army and an Indigenous side.
But when the Japanese bombed the city in 1942, the competition was naturally suspended.
With servicemen leaving the city after the war, the game was left in limbo until the Northern Territory Rugby League Association was created in 1950.
A quarter of a century later came Cyclone Tracey and the long lasting effects that it left. Devastation was city wide.
Many of the players and officials left Darwin after the cyclone. Rugby league in the city was once again on its knees.
A civil war has broken out in recent years with ongoing issues hindering the games growth in the area. The Australian Rugby League disbanded the Darwin Rugby League due to these problems. The competition returned under the Northern Territory Rugby League banner.
But its been 17 long years since Darwin hosted a top-flight rugby league match. On that occasion it was the mighty Western Suburbs Magpies flogging Eastern Suburbs 44-16.
The Roosters return on Saturday night to play the North Queensland Cowboys.
In a likely State of Origin preview, Roosters’ playmaker Mitchell Pearce goes head-to-head with Queensland maestro Johnathan Thurston.
Pearce told The Daily Telegraph that he is ready for Thurston.
“He’s one of the greats. It’s always good to play those sort of players to obviously, one, learn off them and two, try to get one over them” Pearce said.
“Right across the board they’re a great side led by one of the greatest ever in Thurston so it’s going to be a big challenge for us. His move to five-eighth was a little bit of an adjustment but he showed last week what a class player he is.
“I really think he can become one of the greats in the five-eighth position. He’s right up there as one of the best I’ve played against. You never underestimate the Cowboys when Johnathan Thurston is playing.”
There wont be no war in Darwin on Saturday night. But you can be rest assured that the players will put on a show for the locals at Tio Stadium. Especially with the headline act being Pearce versus Thurston.
The starving fans will show up. After all, it might be another 17 years before they see the big show again.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FOOTYSOCIAL.COM.AU