Mauboy gets hold of some soul for new league theme

THE NRL has gone to the 1960s – and all the way back again – in its choice of a new rugby league anthem.

Jessica Mauboy will belt out an Etta James classic, Something's Got a Hold On Me, at the NRL season launch at the Star on Wednesday night. It will be the theme song as the Australian Rugby League Commission moves in a very different direction after two years of Bon Jovi's This Is Our House.

It's understood Mauboy will put a very different spin on the American soul singer's version, which was sampled last year by Flo Rida in his hit single Good Feeling and by Avicii in his release Levels. The ARLC was hoping to keep details of the song under wraps until the season launch. It was played to club bosses during the week.

Canterbury's Dally M medallist Ben Barba will officially open the season on behalf of the players.

"It's a very different direction from where we were last year," the NRL's director of commercial and marketing, Paul Kind, said. "For us it's as much about attracting new fans as it is appealing to our existing ones.

"The way it's been cut, it's about their interactions with fans from all different aspects of footy – beach footy, park footy and street footy. It's about rugby league being played all over the place, not just on our premiership fields. It's a link between the players and fans that has never been done before."

Some of the game's biggest stars, including Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Benji Marshall and Barba, feature prominently in this year's advertisement. It will be given saturation airplay on Fox Sports and the Nine Network as $20 million worth of contra advertising was negotiated in the last broadcast rights deal.

"When you look at where we have been in the past, particularly against our principal competitor, we haven't been in a position to have advertising on free-to-air and subscription television that has been able to promote the key assets of the game other than bums on seats," Mr Kind said.

"What you will see with this campaign is versions of it for participation, promotion of community-based programs for indigenous and other social responsibility programs. We're talking to Men of League about a version."

The theme will be available on iTunes and it's expected it will receive radio airplay.

Mauboy's star continues to rise. Discovered on the fourth season of Australian Idol, the R&B singer has delivered a string of hits on the ARIA charts and her movie, The Sapphires, will be released in the US this week.

"We expect fans across all sorts of demographics will buy her single because it has a really broad appeal," Mr Kind said.

Memorable anthems:

The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy (1985-88), What You Get Is What You See – Tina Turner (1989), Simply The Best – Tina Turner (1990-95), (SL) Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1997), (ARL): It’s My Game – NSWRL (1997), Tubthumping – Chumbawamba (1998), Blow That Whistle – Thomas Keneally (1999), That’s My Team – Hoodoo Gurus (2003-07),  This Is Our House – Bon Jovi (2011-2012), Something’s Got a Hold On Me – Jessica Mauboy (2013).

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