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Eales gives Perth a taste of the big time

RENOWNED for his strong leadership on the field, former Wallaby captain John Eales is tackling the corporate world with similar drive and enthusiasm.

The corporate sector has long been a driver of Rugby Union support in the traditional rugby States of NSW and Queensland, and it’s a similar story in Perth.

“There’s a strong corporate expat community in Perth,” Eales told WA Business News.

“But there is huge interest among the general public as well.”

This belief is supported by player registration figures, which place WA third behind NSW and Queensland across all age groups.

With the growing popularity of the code in mind, Eales will host a function at Subiaco Oval on Thursday June 13 in the lead-up to the Wallabies’ match with the New Zealand Maori that weekend and promises the event, the first in WA as part of his new business, John Eales 5, will offer more than other corporate functions.

“It’s different to other rugby lunches,” Eales said. It’s the first of its kind and will have a big interactive component.”

By “interactive” Eales means those who secure a seat at the $195/head event will be treated not only to tales of battles past (from Eales and Channel 7 commentator and former Wallaby Chris ‘Buddha’ Handy), but will have the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be a Wallaby before a test, tour the dressing rooms and go “behind the scenes”. There’s even a goal-kicking competition, where Eales will talk participants through the last-minute penalty he kicked in Wellington in 2000 to retain the Bledisloe Cup, and give them a chance to emulate his feat.

Eales acknowledges, however, that the enormous recent success of the Wallabies and the sport in general can have its drawbacks.

“In some ways it (rugby) has been a victim of its own success,” he said, referring to the fact that only 10,000 tickets were available to the general public for the August 1 test v the All Blacks in Sydney.

Many of the remaining 70,000 tickets went to the corporate sector, but a large number went to the clubs, the “grass roots”, as Eales calls it, and that can’t be a bad thing for the game’s future.

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