NRL Dream reality TV series to kick off with PNG involved

By Andrew Webster,The Daily Telegraph – August 14, 2009 12:00am

RUGBY league often resembles a soap opera – now it’s taking on reality TV.

In a week in which the game’s reputation has been trashed by the Greg Inglis saga, The Daily Telegraph can reveal filming is about to start on a 14-part series described as a mixture of Australian Idol, Survivor and Big Brother.

NRL Dream will give aspiring players aged from 17 to 25 a shot at the big-time.

Auditions will be held around the country and in PNG, with the eventual winner securing a $100,000 contract with either the Dragons, Roosters, Cowboys, Knights or Titans.

Leading NRL coaches Wayne Bennett, Brian Smith, Neil Henry and John Cartwright are all backing the project. They will help judge the elimination episodes, with contestants completing such tasks as fighting world champion Anthony Mundine for one round and abseiling down the side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Former State of Origin players Ben Ikin, Paul Harragon and Gorden Tallis will also be involved, as well as veteran winger Wendell Sailor.

“There are so many great stories and characters in our game and it takes a lot of hard work to make it to the top level,” Bennett said last night.

“I reckon NRL Dream will help show people all those things. I’m happy that the Dragons could be part of something that will help remind the fans what’s great about the game.”

The program is the brainchild of Newcastle lawyers Rob Faraday-Bensley and Andrew Harrison, who have been working closely with Ikin over the past 18 months on the concept.

They have been given approval from the NRL to use its logo and Fox Sports is committed to broadcasting the program.

“We are passionate about the game and we see this as an opportunity for the game and its players to be portrayed in the correct light,” Faraday-Bensley said.

“Right now, the game needs some good stories. We believe this is what the show will deliver.”

The winner will be announced at a gala dinner during a live broadcast from Fox Studios in March next year.

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