Newcastle confirmed to host Origin III
Note: State of Origin Game 3 has been relocated again, from Newcastle to Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast after the NSW government advised no fans could attend - read more here.
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Newcastle has been confirmed as the venue of Origin III, with a venue switch from Stadium Australia prompted by Sydney's ongoing covid lockdown.
McDonald Jones Stadium will host the game on July 14, with 20,000 spectators permitted to attend (75% of its seating capacity), however fans from Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour will not be permitted.
Stadium Australia was ruled out by the NRL last week, with Newcastle considered the frontrunner for the final game of the 2021 State of Origin series. AAMI Park in Melbourne also expressed interest, while GIO Stadium and even Suncorp Stadium were options.
Tickets will be available from Monday at 9am to QRL, NSWRL and Knights members and 11am for the general public. Tickets can be purchased online from Ticketmaster.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the game would create history in Newcastle hosting the series for the first time in the Origin era.
"This is a reward for the people of Newcastle and Hunter region," he said.
"These fans are among the most passionate fans in our game. They turn out and support the Knights every week and we are excited to bring Ampol State of Origin to Newcastle."
The change of venue for the third game of the series comes after the opening game was moved from the MCG to Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville due to Victoria’s lockdown.
On Friday, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said he was confident the game would be played in Newcastle, with only further restrictions resulting in no crowds forcing it to be shifted elsewhere.
Despite the first two games being played in Queensland, NSW have already won the series with two dominant displays. According to the betting markets, they are $1.17 favourites to make it a clean sweep by winning game 3. You can find the best new betting sites in Australia at Openchange.org to place a range of betting options including head to head, first try scorer and player of the series.
Crowds in regional NSW including Newcastle are currently restricted to 50% of capacity, however this will increase to 75% of the seating capacity for the game - the same as what Melbourne will be by July 14 when the game is scheduled.
Sydney's lockdown has meant NRL games have been played in empty stadiums since last weekend, while both the Roosters and Rabbitohs have relocated home games to McDonald Jones Stadium. The lockdown has today been extended by at least another week.
"We are realistic, I don’t think we will be able to have it at Stadium Australia. It is only four or five days after the lockdown and there is always a lag between opening everything up and the lockdown so I would be surprised if Stadium Australia would be allowed to have a crowd” V’landys told 2GB last Friday.
"We are looking at various options. We would like to keep it in NSW and Newcastle is certainly one of the areas we are looking at.
"We have had some pretty positive discussions with government and hopefully we will be able to make a decision this afternoon."
"It is a rugby league heartland and if we can get things ticked off on by the NSW Government, I am pretty confident that we will have it at Newcastle."