Anzac test to launch Melbourne's new rectangular stadium
The Anzac Test between the Kangaroos and New Zealand in May will kick off Melbourne's new rectangular stadium at Olympic Park.
The match between the Kangaroos and New Zealand on May 7, 2010, will be followed up just two days later by a blockbuster NRL clash, with the Melbourne Storm to take on Brisbane in their first match at their new home.
It sets a pattern of rugby league highlights in the first months of the stadium, becoming a de factor home base for the Kangaroos, who will play half their home internationals there.
The stadium will also host the bumper Four Nations clash between Australia and England on October 31.
"The really good thing about Melbourne is that they've got an appetite for rugby league, they can promote their city through rugby league and they do a great job in all sports.
"We play a lot of rugby league in Sydney, and when major events come around in all sports, particularly rugby league, we're pretty popular.''
The Storm had initially hoped to play their home games against Manly and the New Zealand Warriors at the new venue in rounds six and seven.
But with the stadium completion date pushed back a few weeks, the club will have to make alternative arrangements which could involve playing the matches at Etihad Stadium, their home for the last couple of years.
"We would love to have opened with them, but in the bigger scheme of things we've waited 13 years now (for a purpose-built venue), we can wait 13-and-a-half,'' said Storm chief executive Brian Waldron.
"It's not in any way detracting from what is going to be a sensational opening.''
Waldron said once the $267.5 million rectangular stadium was open, the Storm would play all of their future home matches there, including finals.
"I don't see any need to take games away,'' he said.
"The ideal scenario is that you would sell it out, that's what you want.
"If we play finals, I'd be disappointed in the first year if we didn't go close to filling it.''
The new stadium will be the home for the Storm, the Rebels Super 15 rugby team and Melbourne's two A-League clubs.
Rugby League authorities also announced that the opening match of the 2012 State of Origin series would be played in Melbourne, either at the MCG or Etihad Stadium.
With the 2010 Four Nations final almost certain to be allocated to Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, the Kangaroos' only home match in Sydney next year will be against Papua New Guinea.