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A suitcase with a sticker on it saying “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” plus an NRL ball with the Joe Fortune logo on it on a green background.

The NRL is going to Vegas! Here’s What You Need to Know

A suitcase with a sticker on it saying “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” plus an NRL ball with the Joe Fortune logo on it on a green background.

You’d better believe it, punters! It is happening, and it’s coming very soon! Unless you’ve been hidden away in a South Australian winery, drinking red wines for the last year, you’ll know that the NRL is heading to Las Vegas for the opening games of the 2024 season. Here’s Joe Fortune giving you a fair dinkum breakdown ahead of this historical and bloody exciting moment for Aussie sport.

Which NRL Teams are Going to Play in Vegas

After plenty of talk, good yarns, and speculation over the last few years on whether the NRL could hit the jackpot and have regular season games played in Vegas, it’s about to become a reality. On Sunday, March 3rd, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will face off against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in their first-round match of the season. Both sides failed to qualify for last year’s finals, so will be keen to have a strong start to their campaigns this time around, and where better than in Vegas! Following on a couple of hours later, also in the Allegiant Stadium, Game 2 features last season’s losing finalists, the Brisbane Broncos, getting their season underway by taking on the Sydney Roosters.

The Vegas Dozen

Jeez, for a while there, it looked like it wasn’t going to be the showpiece that footy fans were hoping for, as 12 NRL players hadn’t been issued with visas to enter the US. Players such as Reece Walsh and Latrell Mitchell were mentioned in the media as being part of that group. Reports have since emerged that all those who were asked to appear in person at the US Embassy in Sydney have now been granted visas and will be heading to Vegas. I just hope they know that they’re heading to play a game of footy and that it isn’t a bucks-do in Sin City!

An image of Allegiant Stadium on a yellow background

The Allegiant Stadium

The stadium was completed in 2020 and is the second most expensive ever built anywhere in the world, costing over $2 billion AUD. With a capacity of between 61,000 up to 72,000, depending on what sport is being played, it’ll be interesting to see how full it gets for both the games; you know there will be at least one random Souths fan there!  The stadium is home to the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team and recently hosted Super Bowl 58, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the 49ers in a thrilling last play right at the end of overtime. The stadium has a dark and rounded appearance, which has led to it being nicknamed “Roomba” as locals reckon it looks like an automatic vacuum cleaner…

You don’t need to walk too far, and you’ll find yourself at the famous Vegas Strip. And just quietly, things could get as lively off the pitch as on it. With the ‘Brawl in Brisbane’ hitting the headlines, there could be plenty of stories or pictures to look forward to if the footy teams have a night out. In case you missed it, after the annual Broncos fans’ club day, captain Adam Reynolds and vice-captain Pat Carrigan had a late-night scuffle in a bar, which was all caught on camera. Now, I reckon if that’s the warmup, then there’s every chance with four footy teams loose on the Strip, we could get to see the next few Hangover movies all in one night. So, best get the popcorn ready!

NRL Odds

When in Vegas, you’ve got to have a few bets, so I thought I’d update you on a few odds and markets for both the games and lob in a couple of picks. In the first game, the Bunnies currently are $1.60 faves with Manly $2.36. It is worth noting that Souths will be without new signing Jack Wighton, who carries over a 3-match suspension after being found guilty of biting whilst at the Raiders last season.

With pre-season games still to be contested, these markets could well change, but one thing that does look good for me now is the line bet, which has Manly at +4.5. In what could be a close encounter between two teams that finished mid-table last season, the victory could be won by just a try or field goal. So, taking the Sea Eagles looks to be the top pick here.

In game 2, the Broncos are fancied to go well and can presently be backed at $1.53 to prevail over the Roosters, who are at $2.51. If Adam Reynolds continues his good form, I reckon he’ll control things nicely for Brisbane, and they could run out winners by some margin. With the line at -4.5, I see this as the best pick in the early markets, but just keep an eye out on how things go in the pre-season challenge.

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A TV remote on a green background

When and Where to Watch

The Manly v Souths match will kick off 1.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday, March 3rd, but for footy fans who don’t have Fox Sports it’ll mean a trip to the pub or your local club. In news that surprised many, the first of the double-header is exclusively on Fox Sports without any free-to-air coverage. The second game between the Broncos and Roosters, which kicks off two hours later, is available to be watched live on both Channel 9 and Fox Sports.

NRL Vegas-bound

I reckon now that Hollywood superstar and South’s Owner Russell Crowe has lent his voice to the NRL promo, the games will be a sell-out… In the video, Crowe outlines the rules of footy as well as explaining that there are no helmets, no pads, and no timeouts to try and help attract a US audience that isn’t used to a ball having to be thrown backwards. In what is one of several marketing promos, it is hoped that Crowe will attract interest from the locals who then decide to either go to the matches or at least watch on TV. You can bet anything you like that Russell will be there on matchday supporting the Rabbitohs.

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