NSW has launched a bold late bid to host the NRL Grand Final on October 17 – in front of 40,000 fans.
The 2021 premiership decider between Penrith and South Sydney could be played at Sydney’s Stadium Australia if officials are forced to postpone the game in Brisbane due to fears of a Covid outbreak this weekend.
The game was scheduled to be played at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday night at 7.30pm (AEST) – in front of a reduced 75 per cent capacity crowd of 39,000 fans.
It is understood the NSW state government and stadium officials from Homebush have pitched the idea to NRL bosses Peter V’landys and Andrew Abdo.
A 50 per cent capacity at Stadium Australia would cater for more than 40,000 fans.
The shock development comes as fears are mounting the game will be cancelled in Brisbane’s due to Queensland’s Covid outbreak (pictured, Panthers winger Stephen Crichton after winning the preliminary final last weekend against Melbourne)
The 2021 NRL Grand Final between the Rabbitohs and Panthers could be shifted to Sydney on October 17 (pictured, Souths players after beating the Manly Sea Eagles in their preliminary final)
The 2021 NRL Grand Final in Brisbane has been touted as a ‘Once In a Lifetime’ game, with the decider away from Sydney for the first time since 1908 (pictured, a statue of Immortal Wally Lewis outside Suncorp Stadium)
NSW Stadiums boss Tony Shepherd would love to see the Grand Final – featuring two Sydney teams – in the Harbour City in just over a fortnight.
‘We’d be very happy to help the NRL out if the game can’t go ahead in Brisbane,’ Shepherd said.
‘We’ll have people out and about in NSW by then and we’d have the best Covid safety measures and protocols in place. It would only be for 100 per cent vaccinated fans.’
On Friday morning, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys indicated postponing the grand final was more likely than shifting the biggest game of the year to Townsville in Far North Queensland.
‘All options are on the table… but we want a crowd,’ V’landys told Ben Fordham on 2GB radio.
‘We are still quietly confident the Queensland Government is containing it (Covid spread).
‘They’ve done a wonderful job to date and we’re hoping the numbers stay low and we can go ahead on Sunday (at Suncorp Stadium).’
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government will be following the advice of health experts.
‘Can I just make it very clear – if the advice is to go into lockdown, we will go into lockdown,’ she told reporters on Friday.
‘There’s no ifs and buts here, people. This is serious.’
She added the possibility of lockdown will hinge of whether there is any unlinked community transmission over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young stated it will be a waiting game for footy fans leading into Sunday.
Queensland also announced two new community-acquired Covid cases on Friday.
Rabbitohs fans would be elated to see their team chase premiership glory in Sydney – if the Grand Final is shifted from Brisbane this weekend
The Panthers are chasing their first NRL title since 2003 and will look to go one better after losing the Grand Final last year
Stadium Australia in Sydney (pictured right) could host the delayed NRL Grand Final on October 17 – at a fan capacity of 50 per cent, which would still see over 40,000 spectators