2500 and counting 

HALF of the tickets to tomorrow’s NRL trial have already been snapped up with more than 24 hours remaining before kick-off.

As of 10am yesterday some 2500 tickets had been sold, leaving a further 2500 in the bank for those yet to secure their seat.

The sales figures mean the Workers Bulldogs are well on their way to a sell out crowd of 5000 for the first trial of its kind in Goulburn since the Raiders tackled the Panthers in 1999.

And players from both sides, it seems, are aware of the interest.

“It’s good to play regional football, the crowds get right into it,” Bulldogs lock and Kiwi international Dene Halatau said.

“It takes you back, playing in park grounds rather than stadiums. It makes me feel young again.”

Halatau, who’ll make his return to Bulldogs colours after injury forced him to miss last year’s decider against the Storm, expects an arm wrestle of the highest calibre.

“They’re a strong side,” Halatau said of the Raiders.

“They’re a tough side. They’ve got a big pack and their outside backs have plenty of flair. We’re expecting a good, hard hit out.”

Halatau is set to line up in the backrow for a near full-strength Bulldogs side.

Spectators can expect an NRL-like atmosphere when tomorrow night’s match kicksoff.

Raiders coach David Furner on Tuesday named a 24-man squad for the clash. With the exception of fullback Josh Dugan and hometown hero Jarrod Croker, both sidelined with injury, the Green Machine has all hands on deck.

One name missing from the list read out on Tuesday was that of Mitch Cornish.

The 20-year-old from Goulburn will lead the Raiders under 20s outfit in their match with the Bulldogs, and while not named in the first grade squad, is likely to get game time at the back end of the main match.

“I’ve spoken to Furnsey (David Furner) and it looks like I’ll be sitting on the bench for first grade,” said Cornish, who promoted the match for WIN Television alongside Croker at Workers Arena on Wednesday.

“He wants to give the normal starting side a chance I suppose. Hopefully I can get 10 or 15 minutes at the back end of the game.”

Cornish has already featured in both of the Raiders trials to date. It’s only natural, then, he hopes to nab an NRL berth in 2013.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

“All I can keep doing is playing well. If an opportunity comes up, I’ll take it with both hands.”

There’s more to the weekend’s attraction than a 60 minute trial. The Bulldogs, last season’s minor premiers and best attacking team, arrive in Goulburn today. They’ll conduct a training session at Workers Arena this afternoon from 3pm and are on hand to sign autographs afterwards.

Pre-match proceedings culminate tonight with a Men of League function at Workers Arena. The entire Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs squad, including coach Des Hasler and his assistant Jim Dymock, will be in attendance.

OPINION: Give back to the country

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