Martin Offiah trains with Newham Dockers at Olympic Stadium
- Credit: Archant
The Newham Dockers became the first rugby league side to grace the turf at the former Olympic Stadium when they were joined by Martin Offiah for a training session on Thursday.
The former England and Great Britain international played professionally on both hemispheres for 14 years, but dusted off his boots for a special game of touch.
Held to coincide with the up-coming international test, with England set to face New Zealand – the current top top-ranked team in the world – on Saturday, November 7, Hackney-born Offiah admits the sport has come a long way since he first started playing.
“To become a professional player I had to go far and wide to do that, but now there’s going to be an international rugby league game in Newham,” he said.
“Things have come on a long way and that’s why I applaud what the Rugby Football League (RFL) are doing.
“It’s a chance for anyone in east London to come out and sample the atmosphere – there’s no excuse, it’s on your doorstep.
“If we can get this stadium full on November 7 and we win that game it will be a tremendous shot in the arm for rugby league.”
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The 48-year-old spent a few seasons with the London Broncos – the only capital-based side to have competed in the Super League – and pointed to the growth of clubs like the Dockers as the key for growing the sport in the south.
Formed in 2012, the club play at the Memorial Recreation Ground in West Ham and founder Michael Wheeler, formerly of Manor Park, admits the sport sells itself.
“It’s quite easy really – rugby league’s an attractive game to watch and play,” he said.
“It’s a tough game to play but if you like running with the ball, if you like tackling it’s a no-brainer – it’s a fantastic game to play.
Tickets for the match are priced from £22 for adults and £10 for concessions.
For more information visit rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.