Melbourne Rising will expand on an existing relationship with Ballarat when it meets Sydney Rays in a National Rugby Championship fixture at St Patrick’s College on Sunday.
Melbourne Rebels general manager of rugby Nick Ryan said the visit reflected a conscious effort to spread the rugby gospel to regional areas.
“Many players will feel right at home when they take to the field this Sunday, returning to the venue where they underwent their gruelling Rebels pre-season camp this year,” he said.
Rising, which is the Rebels’ second tier team, rounds out its NRC season against Sydney – hoping to chalk up its second win of the campaign.
“We feel a deep obligation to promote and grow the game, as much as achieve results on the field, and engagements such as Sunday’s game gives everyone a great opportunity to connect and influence the rugby community in Ballarat,” Ryan said.
Despite the Rays sitting at the bottom of the ladder, rising head coach Eoin Toolan is cautious of the threats that the Sydney team pose.
“The Rays have several threats across the park who we have to be mindful of,” Toolan said..
“Hugh Sinclair in the backrow is obviously a guy we know well after his time with the Rebels last year, and Wallaby Jack Dempsey has been impressive this campaign.
“For us, we really want to finish 2018 on a high. We feel like we’ve come a long way as a team and are looking forward to rewarding our fans.”
Kick-off is at 1pm.