The Australian Rugby Union is invading enemy territory, with 18 matches in the new National Rugby Championship (NRC) to be played at the spiritual homes of NRL clubs.

The NRC draw was released yesterday, with the homes of the NRL's Wests Tigers, Manly, Parramatta and Melbourne all to host. The competition starts on August 21.

With games pitting Queensland Country against North Harbour and Brisbane City against Canberra to serve as curtain-raisers to two Wallabies tests, the NRC will also be thrust into the spotlight at Suncorp Stadium and Cbus Super Stadium, the homes of the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans.

ARU chief Bill Pulver is hopeful of building a "tribal" following among rugby fans with a competition he believes will rival New Zealand's ITM Cup and South Africa's Currie Cup.


The NRC is effectively a reincarnation of the ill-fated Australian Rugby Championship, which lasted just one year in 2007 and cost the ARU some $5 million.

But with Buildcorp jumping on board as naming rights sponsor and Fox Sports, Foxtel, Asics and Gilbert also providing financial backing, Pulver is confident this latest nationwide competition will be a success.