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Melbourne Coronavirus situation sees State of Origin opener relocated to Townsville

Melbourne Coronavirus situation sees State of Origin opener relocated to Townsville
June 1, 2021

Uncertainty created by Melbourne’s fourth Coronavirus lockdown has seen the NRL relocate game one of the 2021 State of Origin series on 9th June from the MCG to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

With the NRL initially favouring relocating the game to another ‘neutral’ venue like Perth, Adelaide or Canberra, NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo announced that Townsville will host the game to ensure continuity of the competition.

Abdo advised "Townsville has the lowest risk of a COVID outbreak impacting the game and the least financial fallout of the available venues.

"Townsville is also a new, state-of-the-art venue with the capabilities to host an event with a global audience like Origin, placing it ahead of alternate regional locations.

"I understand some fans will have wanted a neutral venue, but the reality is we are working within a pandemic and we have to make decisions that ensure Origin proceeds as scheduled and with the lowest financial impact on the game."

The relocated fixture will be the first time a State of Origin game will have been played outside an Australian state capital city aside from the exhibition game played in Long Beach, California, USA at the end of the 1987 series.

With the Queensland Country Bank Stadium having a capacity of 27,327, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 10 B-double trucks were on standby to take temporary grandstands to the venue.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it faced stiff competition to secure the event, stating “there were a lot of naysayers out there who didn't think Townsville would ever be considered, even in our own community, but they've all been proved wrong."

Mayor Hill added that preparations to host the game will have to be completed in a tight timeframe, adding “we've pulled events together before but never with this short notice.

"But we have done it - we did something similar for the Broncos-Cowboys game, but I'm sure we can make the party bigger and better than anyone has ever seen."

The event is expected to inject about $5 million into the local economy.

Image: Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Credit: Cox Architecture.

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