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NRL to grow via touch football: CEO

With touch football finally under its wing, rugby league is en route to being the game of the people.
NRL to grow via touch football: CEO
by AAP

By Rob Forsaith

SYDNEY, August 13 AAP - With touch football finally under its wing, rugby league is en route to being the game of the people.

So hopes NRL chief executive Dave Smith, noting at Tuesday's announcement of a new partnership with Touch Football Australia (TFA) that his code would have even greater reach to repel AFL's advances into western Sydney.

"We're committed to becoming Australia's biggest sporting community, and today helps us a lot in achieving that," Smith said.

"Rugby league is very much about growth, and I think this represents a real opportunity for growth.

"There's a natural alignment there and it's always seemed natural from the time I started at the NRL ... it's important for both families and there'll be huge opportunities for everyone involved."

TFA and the NRL had been in discussions for almost two years about the deal, which will result in more than 1 million people playing in competitions under a joint NRL-TFA banner.

Both Smith and TFA chief executive Colm Maguire expect the union to lower participation costs, provide a more streamlined pathway for talented youngsters, and help with lobbying and funding.

"This is a real opportunity to grow the profile of touch both as a recreational games and an elite sport," Maguire said.

Smith and Maguire joined the likes of superstar code hopper Sonny Bill Williams, popstar Jessica Mauboy, and touch football guns Louise Winchester and Steve Roberts in announcing the deal on Tuesday.

"I'd love to have had a bit of a run around Sonny, that would have probably made my life," Smith said as Williams, mulling over a shift back to rugby union, completed some light runs in a scratch match at Allianz Stadium.

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