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Turning back the clock for added entertainment: Walker

While rugby league always seems to enjoy strong TV audiences, there is the discussion about how we could make game day events more enticing.

It's no simple task, because rugby league is ideal for television and it's easy to sit at home in your civvies and enjoy a game from the comfort of your own lounge.

But you can't tell me that rugby league fans don't look sidewards with some envy at the crowds and supporter culture that the AFL enjoys.

People want to go to AFL games to be a part of the atmosphere as much as they care about what's happening on the field.

Last weekend I was invited to play in the inaugural Broncos v Titans Invitational All Stars match at C-Bus Super Stadium at Robina and it was a real buzz.

Essentially the match was what is commonly known as a 'Golden Oldies' event – former players from both the Brisbane and Gold Coast clubs.

It was played as a curtain-raiser to the NRL first grade match between the current stars of both sides.

Not only did I get to run alongside my childhood idol Steve Renouf once again, but the day threw the spotlight on National Reconciliation Week and the naming of the Preston Campbell Stand.

There were plenty of good reasons to lace the boots up once more.

But beyond the feelgood factor, it got me thinking that maybe there was something there for the NRL to consider.

All the feedback I got from the day was that it was an enjoyable experience, and the social media response afterwards has indicated there is an appetite out there.

People came nice and early to the venue and got to witness the heroes they'd grown up supporting.

They got to see which fellas had lost all their hair (Adrian Vowles) and which blokes had let theirs go feral (Kevin Gordon).

They got to see who had kept their pace in retirement (Scotty Prince) and which ones were short of a gallop (too many to name).


Broncos old boys... πŸ€™πŸΌπŸ€™πŸΌπŸ€™πŸΌ

A post shared by Chris Walker (@iamchriswalker) on

It was all a bit of a laugh, played in a good-natured spirit, but with some genuine skill tossed in.

This wasn't premiership-winning rugby league, but it certainly had that important factor – entertainment value.

My daughter Harper, who is aged 10, even got to run on at one stage and scored herself a length-of-the-field try.

She capped it off by pulling a few cartwheels and flips she'd learnt in gymnastics.

It got the crowd involved, made for a great highlights clip, and will probably be something that Harper and her friends talk about for decades to come.

I know Ash Harrison's son got to score a similar try a few years back and he still brings it up all the time.

That type of thing appeals to all ages.

Certainly, we don't want to overdo the concept and have us oldies pulling hamstrings and calf muscles before every NRL fixture, but it has a place.

I say, let's get some celebrities involved too.

There have been some classic celebrity football matches in the UK, and how many people out there can still remember Fatty Vautin and Allan Langer playing cricket in the Allan Border Tribute match?

In tennis they have former legends play in the ATP Champions Tour, which is high on nostalgia and interactivity.

I think rugby league has stepped up its act in recent years with pre-game performances by musicians, but there's always sections of the crowd that disagree with the choice.

You can't really go wrong with a curtain-raiser that is made for both the younger and older generations – and which is focused around the same sport as the main event.

It's that little extra that TV doesn't capture. It could be the difference between someone getting off their couch to come to the game or chucking on the slippers and reclining.


Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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