Peter Smith’s Tour Diary: Aussie rules in Melbourne despite Storm’s dominance

Leeds Rhinos fans tour group at AAMI Park.
Leeds Rhinos fans tour group at AAMI Park.
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MELBOURNE IS the self-styled “world capital of sport” and it’s easy to see why.

Wander alongside the Yarra River from the city centre to the Melbourne and Olympic Parks and you’ll come across the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas – home to Australian Open Tennis – plus the Hisense Arena (which stages basketball, netball, tennis and cycling), AAMI Park, the Holden Centre (base for the Collingwood AFL team and where Leeds Rhinos have trained this week and the Olympic Park Oval. Close by, overshadowing the other venues, is Melbourne Cricket Ground (the ‘G’).

Brian McDermott talks to his players in training at Melbourne. Picture: SWPIX.COM

Brian McDermott talks to his players in training at Melbourne. Picture: SWPIX.COM

Unfortunately, what you won’t see is much publicity for tomorrow’s Downer World Club Challenge.

Though Rhinos and Storm have both worked hard to promote the match, this reporter hasn’t spotted any advertising for the game. Melbourne is – above all else – an Aussie Rules hotbed.

Rhinos have made the most of their time here. Fans already in the city were invited to watch training yesterday and the players and supporters mingled at a barbecue after the captain’s run – which is the final rehearsal before gameday.

Among the fans here are members of Anthony Mullally’s family. He didn’t travel after suffering a fractured finger against Hull KR last week, but it was too late for his relatives to cancel.

England's Jermaine McGillvary celebrates scoring a try at Melbourne's AAMI Park during the World Cup.

England's Jermaine McGillvary celebrates scoring a try at Melbourne's AAMI Park during the World Cup.

As well as the players, members of Rhinos’ backroom staff have made the trip. They took the opportunity to spend a morning with their Storm counterparts before an afternoon at AFL club Essendon.

Ryan Hall. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

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