Big Hype Surrounding NRL Season Opener Between Roosters-Rabbitohs
National Rugby League side Sydney Roosters and Channel 9 "have set the ambitious targets of a sell-out crowd and Origin-like ratings for the season opener against South Sydney," according to Andrew Webster of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. The anticipation surrounding the match "had already been heightened because of Sonny Bill Williams' first game in the NRL for five years, but the sudden emergence of the Roosters as premiership threats has ramped up the hype." Often "ridiculed for their modest crowd numbers, there is an expectation the Roosters faithful will turn up en masse, potentially filling the 42,000-seat stadium" after a 27% increase in membership. Nine CEO and Roosters powerbroker David Gyngell "has invested heavily in Williams' return to the game, with the network rolling out new promos last night positioning the controversial footballer-boxer as the 'lone wolf' of rugby league." Last year's golden-point season opener between the Dragons and the Knights "attracted a rating bonanza of more than 600,000 viewers in Sydney." It was the most watched regular season game last year, but Gyngell wants a "10 to 20 per cent" increase on that (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/25).