/ 01 October 2021

Trying times for the NRL grand final

Image source: NRL
Image source: NRL

The crowd attending the NRL grand final at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Sunday has been reduced from 52,000 to 39,000 thanks to growing fears of a COVID outbreak in southeast Queensland. ‘The Cauldron’ will be at 75% capacity, and fans will be masked as they watch the South Sydney Rabbitohs go up against the Penrith Panthers. Health/NRL officials are on high alert after 6 new local cases were reported in Queensland yesterday, leading to tightened restrictions in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay, Logan and Townsville.

It means 13,000 ticket holders from the sold-out event will be refunded their money. And anyone worried about the outbreak will also be able to get a refund, NRL boss Andrew Abdo said yesterday. There are now 4 COVID clusters in the state after 12 new local cases were reported in the last week. Not shy of a lockdown, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday denied claims she was holding back on account of rugby league’s big day. ​​”Let me make it very clear that the health of Queenslanders comes first, and as soon as [Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young] says we need to move into a lockdown, we will.” The uncertainty has led broadcaster Nine to send one of their broadcast trucks up to Townsville in case the match has to be moved at the last minute.

Well, it kicks off with Kate Miller-Heidke and Mossy. And if you don’t know that Mossy is Ian Moss of Cold Chisel fame, we wonder if this is the game for you, quite frankly… The Panthers are favourites to beat the Bunnies. Western Sydney’s pride beat the Melbourne Storm last week – the same team they lost to in last year’s grand final. Souths have plenty to play for besides the trophy – it’s legendary coach Wayne Bennett’s last match with the club (and his 10th Grand Final) before he moves back to Brisbane. And veteran Benji Marshall playing in his second grand final in 16 years after he starred for the Wests Tigers with that flick pass. But if you’re after an omen, check this out: no 3rd-placed team has ever lost an NRL grand final. And this year, Souths finished 3rd… Bring on 7.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday.

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