Expanded NRL Touch Premiership ready for year two

The NRL Touch Premiership returns on Saturday when the Eels men's and women's sides host the Cowboys at ANZ Stadium.

The tournament will include sides representing eight NRL clubs with matches to be played as curtain-raisers to NRL fixtures across Australia and New Zealand.

The Eels and Cowboys will meet in 30-minute men's and women's matches ahead of the Eels-Sharks NRL fixture.

The 2019 edition of the touch premiership will see the addition of two new clubs (Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors) and an increase from seven to 26 matches. 

Touch Football Hall of Fame member and Parramatta coach Mark Boland said the expansion of the Premiership is an exciting initiative.

"The game has evolved and it's only fitting that we keep taking steps forward in showcasing our talent," Boland said.

"It's great that more NRL clubs have gotten behind this initiative to support touch football teams, which has given us further opportunity to show all the talent that our sport produces.

"We are up for a tough game against the Cowboys on Saturday and we’re all looking forward getting out there and putting on a good show for all the touch football and NRL fans."

A Cowboys v Broncos touch match in 2018.
A Cowboys v Broncos touch match in 2018. ©NRL Photos

Touch Football is Australia's largest social sport, with 680,000 participants.

Touch Football Australia (TFA) CEO Jamie O'Connor knows these participants, as well as rugby league audiences and other sporting fans, will love the spectacle of elite touch.

"Both men's and women's elite touch football is fast and high-try-scoring, with phenomenal footwork, long passes, dives and trick moves," O'Connor.

"There's no wonder the NRL Touch Premiership has been coined as the NRL's answer to the Big Bash."

Select games throughout the premiership season will be broadcast on NRL.com, Fox League and streaming service Kayo.

The Premiership will run through to the grand finals on August 18.