Raider #111 David Barnhill has been announced as the clubs Viking Ambassador for the Raiders round eight match against the Penrith Panthers in Wagga Wagga on May 4.
The Viking Ambassador is a special guest of the club at each home match and has the honour of blowing the Huawei Raiders Viking Horn and starting the Viking clap before a Raiders home match.
This will be the first time the Viking Clap ceremony has been performed outside of GIO Stadium in Canberra, with the ceremony to happen in regional NSW thanks to Destination NSW and Wagga Wagga City Council.
A premiership player with the Raiders in 1990 and a Wagga Wagga local, Barnhill was the perfect choice for the honour for the Raiders regional fixture.
Barnhill played for three seasons with the Raiders in first grade from 1989 to 1991, making his debut in 1989, which is significant as the club celebrates its 30th anniversary of their first premiership this season.
He said he has fond memories from his time as part of the Green Machine in what was a golden era.
“I started with the Raiders in 1988 and I was with the under 21’s in 1989. The first-grade side at the time was freakish, to train along those guys, it really was an amazing time,” Barnhill said.
“We had a great Coach who was very forward thinking in Tim Sheens, we would train together as a whole Club, you had a mixture of players from under 21’s to first graders playing together so it was pretty special to play alongside guys who were playing for Australia at the time.”
Since retiring from Rugby League, Barnhill has since relocated to his hometown Wagga Wagga and is excited at the thought of watching the Raiders run out against Panthers in early May.
“It’s pretty special to have an NRL competition game down in Wagga Wagga this year, I think the community will really get behind it and it will be a sell-out crowd. I hope it becomes an annual event. It’s fantastic for people out in rural areas to get a glimpse of the stars of the NRL.”
Barnhill said he’s excited about the opportunity to be the Viking Ambassador and experience the Viking Clap for the first time.
“It’s a buzz for me! I think it was a great idea from the marketing department of the Club to come up with it. I haven’t been to a home game to see the Viking Clap so it will be great to see it in Wagga.”
Today’s announcement coincided with some news from McDonald’s Park in Wagga Wagga, with some major updates in regards to infrastructure at the venue including:
- Works to deliver more seating, increased capacity and new amenities are almost complete at McDonald’s Park.
- Wagga Wagga City Council received funding in the first stage of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund to construct female change facilities at McDonald’s Park and further funding in the second round to expand the spectator seating.
- The works will further improve the facility for rugby league and other sports locally, especially by providing a female change room
- The spectator seating is being extended to the north and south of the main grandstand seating to bring the total seating to more than 660.
- Wagga Wagga Rugby League is coordinating the projects worth in excess of $400,000, which also relocated the canteens on the eastern side further back to the fence to increase spectator capacity and useability.