State of Origin opener moved to Townsville
The opening game of the 2021 State of Origin series has been relocated from the MCG to Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, with all tickets now sold-out.
The shift north, in response to Melbourne’s Covid lockdown, follows a week of speculation in which various host venues were mooted including Bankwest Stadium in the west of Sydney and GIO Stadium in Canberra. Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth were other possible locations mentioned earlier on.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground will now host the showpiece fixture between Queensland and New South Wales in 2024 and 2026. The venue last hosted Origin in 2018 when 87,122 fans attended. In 2015, a record State of Origin crowd of 91,513 watched NSW beat QLD in game two.
Prior to the current snap seven-day lockdown, Melbourne’s stadiums had a capacity restriction of 85%, meaning up to 85,000 fans could pack the famous ground, however ticket sales had been sluggish, as has been the case for many sporting events post-Covid, particularly in Melbourne with AFL crowds down.
The move to Queensland means it’ll be the first time a state has hosted two matches in a series since 2017, and the first time since 1982 a state has hosted the opening two games. One match is typically played at a natural venue to cash in and spread the game to non-traditional rugby league areas – Optus Stadium and Adelaide Oval have hosted games in the past two years.
Many claim this will give Queensland an unfair advantage, however the home side are still outsiders according to the betting markets, at $2.20, while NSW are favourites at $1.68, as of Tuesday morning. You can bet with bet365 to get involved ahead of the series opener on Wednesday evening and there are multiple markets available.
It’s believed the Queensland Government paid upwards of $6 million to host the game in Townsville, and while NSW remained in negotiations having the final right of refusal, they refused to match the bid.
NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said, “I’m all for major events but we have to be responsible with taxpayers’ money and what Queensland had paid the NRL is truly silly money”, believing the figure may be much as $8.3 million.
With just one week to sell tickets for the event, getting a significant crowd to the 83,500-capacity Stadium Australia would have been a challenge, with the government instead preferring the 30,000-capacity Bankwest Stadium. The Olympic Stadium will host game three of the series after the second game is held at Suncorp Stadium.
Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium, which officially opened in February 2020, has a capacity of 25,000, but this will be boosted for the game, with its horse-shoe design allowing additional temporary seating to be installed to boost capacity to around 28,000.
With the move officially announced late Monday, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said advice from the league’s biosecurity experts was that tropical Townsville carried the least risk in regards to the pandemic.
STATE OF ORIGIN I - QLD v NSW
Wednesday 9th June, 8:10pm AEST
Queensland Country Bank Stadium
View event information here including venue info, tickets, seating map, directions and accommodation.
How to buy tickets to Townsville Origin opener
Tickets went on sale to Game 1 of the 2021 State of Origin series on Wednesday, June 2, through the stadium’s official ticket agency, Ticketmaster. Additional tickets in the temporary grandstands will go on sale Tuesday, June 7.
Fans who purchased tickets for the match at the MCG will be automatically refunded by Ticketek.
How to live stream Origin I
While Kayo has the streaming rights to all NRL premiership games excluding the Grand Final, it does not have access to the State of Origin series, so unfortunately you cannot watch the game on this streaming service. Channel 9 has exclusive rights (as it does with the Grand Final), meaning you can live stream the action for free on its streaming service – 9Now.
For international viewers (outside of Australia), you can live stream the game on the NRL's official international streaming service – Watch NRL.
State of Origin Stadium Seating Map
Here is the seating map for Queensland Country Bank Stadium for Origin 1 - including the additional temporary grandstands. View the stadium map here.
Game 1 Schedule
- 6:00pm: Corporate Gates Open
- 6.30pm: Public Gates Open
- 7.35pm: Entertainment commences (The Veronicas)
- 8.10pm: First Half
- 8.55pm: Half time
- 9.11pm: Second Half
- 9.56pm: Full time
Townsville Accommodation for Origin
Available accommodation is fast running out in Townsville ahead of the State of Origin opener Wednesday-week. You can find and book hotels and rental properties near Queensland Country Bank Stadium right here on Austadiums – find accommodation here.