Rhinos rugby league president Tony Stackhouse, middle, joins soccer club officials to mark their affiliation.
Rhinos rugby league president Tony Stackhouse, middle, joins soccer club officials to mark their affiliation. Adam Hourigan

Rhinos to expand into other sports

THE Grafton Rhinos’ mascot ‘Ripper’ may soon be a popular figure around sporting events in the area - and not just at rugby league venues.

The Rhinos have embarked on a venture to expand their brand by inviting sporting teams to come under the same umbrella.

Last year the rugby league club and the newly-named Grafton Rhinos Netball Club joined forces in fostering the best interests of both sports.

League boss Tony Stackhouse confirmed the Rhinos had preliminary discussions with the Grafton City Soccer Club in a bid to involve them in the same way as the netball.

“I had preliminary talks with the City Soccer Club and at this stage they are interested in the proposal, to come under the same banner as the Rhinos,” Stackhouse said.

“The City Soccer Club are keen to play games on Friday’s night at McKittrick Park and where’re happy to support them.

“We are looking at registering the name of the Grafton Rhinos Sporting Clubs... under the Rhinos brand.

“We want to make it clear that we are not about controlling clubs, they run their own show and have their own constitution... it’s a mutual brand name.”

Stackhouse added teams and sponsors will be the main benefactors of the proposal.

“It will expand our membership base which in turn will increase our potential for more volunteers,” he said.

“It will also certainly benefit sponsors. Getting their product out to club members can only be a positive step... people will shop locally.”

Stackhouse said the aim is to make the Rhinos’ brand recognisable.

“Members will receive a loyalty card, it’s the sponsor’s way of getting their product out to the club members,” he said.

McKittrick Park, home of the Rhinos, has untapped potential according to Stackhouse.

“It’s a great set-up and could be utilised more. Clarence Valley Council has obtained Federal and State Government funding to renovate dressing sheds and the canteen. They are looking for more funding to also improve the grandstand... it has the potential to be a showpiece and be a multiple-use facility,” he said.

“Our aim and council’s aim is to attract an NRL game sometime down the track or even an A-League game.”

Grafton City Soccer club senior’s co-ordinator Greg Allen said the club is in for some exciting times with the proposal to play at McKittrick Park.

“We approached Council about relocating our games from Rushforth Park and George Novak suggested we look at McKittrick Park,” Allen said.

“We then had discussions with the Rhinos committee; we have the opportunity to play under the one club. McKittrick Park is a utility type arena and we hope to play Friday night and Saturday afternoons.

“It will be fantastic to be able to host games under lights at McKittrick, people can come along and have a great night out.”

Allen said his club will be having further talks with the Rhinos next week.

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