Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley, QR National GM & CEO Lance Hockridge, Jobe Wheelhouse and Michael Bridges. Picture by Dean OslandHUNTER Sports Group has unveiled a major new Knights and Jets sponsorship with rail company QR National worth an estimated $2 million over three years.
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The deal was unveiled this morning at Ausgrid Stadium by QR chief executive Lance Hockridge and his Hunter Sports counterpart Troy Palmer.

Hear and see some of the press conference by clicking below.

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Pictures by Dean Osland

A phalanx of sports stars including Knights captain Kurt Gidley and Jets star Michael Bridges were in attendance.

Mr Hockridge said the Brisbane-based QR National took its social responsibilities seriously and the Newcastle sponsorship was part of that outlook.

‘‘It’s about bringing together our employees, our customers and our stakeholders to support the local community,’’ Mr Hockridge said.

Mr Palmer said it was the biggest shorts sponsorship deal in Australian sporting history.

Hunter Sports Group is backed by mining entrepeneur Nathan Tinkler, who is developing the Maules Creek coalmine near Narrabri through listed company Aston Resources.

Mr Hockridge said QR National was hauling about one-third of the Hunter’s export coal to port and was looking to expand.

As much as QR National would like the Maules Creek work, the Jets and Knights sponsorship could not be viewed as a sign the company would automatically be hauling Maules Creek coal once the mine started.