Dragons set to be left out of NRL’s Magic Round as 2024 draw gets closer to release


St George Illawarra are expected to be the team omitted from Magic Round in 2024 as the NRL prepares to release its draw early next week.

Clubs were notified of their home games on Friday, with the full schedule set to be released publicly on Monday.

The addition of a 17th team from 2023 has meant one side misses out on the Brisbane-based football carnival, with Newcastle the unlucky side this year.

That has left the Knights as guaranteed to play in next year’s marquee weekend, as are Queensland clubs and each of the eight sides with deals to host matches.

Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

That has left the Dragons as the team expected to miss out in 2024.

Elsewhere, Penrith and Melbourne are expected to meet in a round-one heavyweight clash, with Wests Tigers likely to have the bye.

“It is what it is,” said Tigers coach Benji Marshall.

“Whatever gets thrown at us, you’ve got to deal with it so if that’s the bye round one, we’ll take the two points and we’ll move on to round two.”

The NRL has also confirmed the All-Stars games will return to Townsville in 2024 for the first time in three years.

Men’s and women’s fixtures between Maori and Indigenous sides will take place at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on February 16, just over two weeks before the men’s NRL season starts.

The location of the All Stars games has changed annually in recent times, hosted in Parramatta and Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island since last being played in Townsville.

That 2021 fixture was famous for its 10-10 draw with Latrell Mitchell kicking a late penalty goal that tied the game which couldn’t be extended to Golden Point.

“There is no better way to celebrate the start of our season,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said of the matches.

“The full week of community engagement, education and cultural activities is unique and unrivalled in sport.”

Putting in the work ???????? #RedV #Breathefire #PRESZN24 pic.twitter.com/Ll6wrwJW2p

— St George Illawarra Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) November 10, 2023

It comes as the NRL releases the draw for its pre-season challenge, played over two weekends between February 15 and 25.

Games will be played in Christchurch, Ipswich, Mackay, Queanbeyan, Mudgee and on the Sunshine Coast as part of the tournament, as well as at more customary venues.

A prize of $100,000 will be awarded to the winning team, with the Sea Eagles taking out the inaugural edition last season.

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Brisbane, Manly, South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters will each play in the tournament, but will likely have to run out reserve-grade teams against each other with the top squads in Las Vegas.

Reigning -premiers Penrith won’t feature, however, with the Panthers expected to be in England for the World Club Challenge match against Super League champions Wigan.


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