Townsville Bulletin

WA launches 11th hour play for final


WESTERN Australia has made an audacious bid to steal the NRL grand final from Suncorp Stadium after a Covid scare in Queensland.

West Australian government officials have made formal overtures to the ARL Commission in a stunning eleventh-hour attempt to snatch Sunday night’s historic decider.

Perth’s $1bn Optus Stadium hosted the AFL grand final between Melbourne and the Bulldogs last week and now WA bosses want to bring rugby league’s gala event to the wild west.

WA faces an uphill battle to clinch the decider, with well-placed sources expecting the ARL Commission to honour contractua­l obligation­s with the Queensland government.

The Queensland government has done the heavy lifting keeping rugby league alive amid the Covid crisis this season, which forced their NSW counterpar­ts to hand over NRL grand final hosting rights for the one-off event.

Fresh Covid cases in Brisbane on Thursday prompted Suncorp Stadium’s capacity to be reduced to 75 per cent, or 39,000 fans. Fears of a full-scale lockdown in Brisbane opened the door

for the NSW government to make inquiries about reclaiming the NRL decider – and now WA powerbroke­rs have made a cash advance to the ARL Commission.

Optus Stadium has experience hosting marquee league events after 59,721 fans flocked to State of Origin’s debut on Perth soil in 2019.

Optus is hosting the West Australian Football League grand final between South Fremantle and Subiaco tomorrow.

That means the prospect of a historic NRL grand final in Perth would have to be postponed by a week until Sunday, October 10.

Despite WA’S genuine interest, Queensland government officials remain in dialogue with NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo and are working towards a Suncorp decider on Sunday.

Should a snap lockdown be called over the weekend by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the NRL will delay the grand final by a week with a view to a historic Townsville decider on Sunday week.

Under contractua­l terms, Townsville’s $290m Queensland Country Bank Stadium is the Plan B contingenc­y for the ARL Commission should the doors be locked at Suncorp.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said the players will play wherever, whenever.

“Everything has its own challenges but I’m sure players are ready to play,” Bennett said.

“They’ll play tomorrow, next week, week after, they’ll play. We can’t control it.

“There’s no conversati­on about it, we’re not talking about it.”

 ?? ?? Wayne Bennett.
Wayne Bennett.

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