Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has been rostered just hours before kick-off due to a surprise interview he didn’t make all season.
Welcome to our live coverage of the 2021 NRL Grand Final between the Rabbitohs and Panthers.
The stars of South Sydney and Penrith were on fire this final round, but it’s the ongoing battle of words between coaches Wayne Bennett and Ivan Cleary that has dominated the build-up to the Brisbane blockbuster.
Check out the massive lineup of Fox League’s weekly Grand Final coverage on Kayo, including live coverage before game, halftime and game after game with full analysis of the best team in the industry. New to Kayo? Start your free trial >
More than 50,000 supporters were initially expected to attend a sold-out grand final at Suncorp Stadium, but during the week Covid outbreak meant capacity was reduced to 75 percent.
Ivan Cleary roasted over interview stump
Reportedly, Ivan Cleary turned down a request to be interviewed on match day with a move he hasn’t made all year.
Broncos legend Gorden Tallis on Sunday criticized the Panthers mentor and players for failing to promote the sport in Brisbane this week.
Cleary has exchanged verbal barbs with Bennett in recent weeks, but has tried to stay in the shadows this week.
Fox League reporter James Hooper told Triple M on Sunday that Cleary’s failure to make himself available to fans this week had raised eyebrows.
Hooper claimed Cleary “did himself a disservice” with how he behaved this week.
“I understand it got pretty heated between him and Wayne a month ago and he’s obviously learned some lessons from that, but this is the biggest game of the year,” Hooper said.
“He punched Triple M back today for a pre-match interview. I think he did them all when asked over the course of this season.
Tallis said, “We don’t pay as much as TV, but we’re still partners,” Tallis said of Triple M. “You don’t talk to me, in the United States you can interview Michael Jordan two hours before he plays.
“That’s why all our players wear NBA gear.
“All the players are walking down the street with their hats backwards with a LeBron James singlet or Kobe Bryant, because you see those guys selling their brand every week.
“It’s not the coach’s fault and it’s not the player’s fault. It’s the game’s fault. We have to be stronger.”
Mystery around Panthers star’s injury
Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards terrified fans on Sunday morning as he completed the team’s training walk while resting on crutches and carrying a moon boot.
Edwards has suffered a foot injury in recent weeks and has previously worn the moon boot leading up to the Panthers’ previous games in the final series in a bid to keep pressure on a ligament at the base of his foot.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary dismissed Edwards’ foot problem as a concern on Saturday.
“Dylan’s okay—he’ll be right,” Cleary said.
“He’s started the week on crutches and a moon boot for the last three weeks – it’s just to take the weight off the foot. “He was one of our best last week, he is very important to our team. I’m sure both teams that have injuries, we certainly have.
“But we’ve had that for a while. I am amazed at the resilience of these guys and the courage they show every week. They just refuse to play and they just keep showing up.”
Brent Naden will remain on standby to move on to the starting team if Edwards fails a pre-match fitness test.
Banned Rabbitohs star gets premiership ring
South Sydney have decided to award banned star Latrell Mitchell a Premier League ring if the club wins on Sunday night.
The fullback has been suspended since Round 24 after a horror-high tackle on Roosters center Joey Manu.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Rabbitohs plan to purchase 12 more Premiership rings – worth $5,000 – to add to the 20 rings the NRL will hand over to the club for the 17 players in the Grand Final and other top members of the technical staff.
The Rabbitohs have made the decision to commission so many more rings to honor the players and senior officials who have made sacrifices within the NRL’s biosafety protocols this year.
NRL Grand Final Match Day 2021 Runout Sheet
All times AEDT
1:00 PM: Gates open at Suncorp Stadium
1.15 pm: Intrust Super Cup preliminary final
3.45 pm: Intrust Super Cup preliminary final
5.30 pm: farewell players
6.30 pm: Pre-game entertainment
7.30pm: Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs Grand Final