Origin 3 on the move again, to the Gold Coast
The NRL has been forced to move Wednesday’s State of Origin finale from Newcastle to the Gold Coast due to NSW’s ongoing Covid crisis.
A decision was made late Saturday night after the NSW government advised the NRL that fans could no longer attend the game if played at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium.
A 75% of seating capacity had previously been approved for the event, with up to 20,000 spectators permitted to attend the first Origin game in regional NSW, however the Covid situation in the state is showing no signs of improving.
The game will now be played at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, meaning for the first time in series history, all three games will have been played in the sunshine state.
Game 1 was relocated from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Townsville due to Victoria’s lockdown at the time, while game 2 proceeded at Suncorp Stadium as scheduled.
Game 3 was originally scheduled for Stadium Australia but moved to Newcastle after Sydney’s lockdown was extended.
Other locations considered at the time were Melbourne, Canberra and Queensland, although the NRL had said they’d prefer not to play all three games in the state.
Melbourne currently has a covid capacity restriction of 75% with a cap of 40,000 at outdoor stadiums, meaning 23,000 fans could have attended AAMI Park and 40,000 at both Marvel Stadium and the MCG.
Instead, the NRL have opted for Cbus Stadium, where a full-house of 27,000 will be able to attend, as NSW push for a series whitewash after running out convincing winners in the first two games.
While there is no community infection in Newcastle, the worsening COVID situation in Sydney caused the NSW Government to believe hosting a major event in a regional community with a crowd could create additional risk to the community.
“We are disappointed not to be able to give Newcastle the city’s first State of Origin, but we must operate within all State Public Health Orders and not having a crowd in Newcastle negates the opportunity for our fans from the region,’’ NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“The Gold Coast has a very low infection rate and both Origin camps are currently located within driving distance of Cbus Stadium. It means neither team will be disadvantaged by travel.
“This is an exciting outcome for the Gold Coast. It will be the first time in history that the Gold Coast has hosted State of Origin.’’
Tickets to the relocated game will go on sale on Tuesday at 11:00am through Ticketek.
Meanwhile, the Australian Rugby League Commission has announced the relocation of all NSW and ACT-based teams to South-East Queensland for one month to ensure the NRL competition can continue in the face of the surging COVID-19 outbreak in NSW. Updated NRL fixture information will be released soon and updated on Austadiums.