Only a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases on Sunday morning will prevent the NRL grand final from going ahead, says Peter V’landys.
The chairman of the ARL committee, Peter V’landys, says it is “full speed ahead” for the NRL’s grand final, to be played tonight at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The recent Covid-19 outbreak in South East Queensland has cast doubt on the decider, who will be contested by Penrith and South Sydney, with relocation, postponement and spectator bans all on the table this week.
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But those options won’t be necessary after Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Sunday that the state had registered zero local Covid cases overnight.
“It’s a great relief for the fans… it’s going to be a game for eternity,” V’landys told Nine’s rugby league reporter Danny Weidler.
As revealed by News Corp on Friday, the Western Australian government was making a last-ditch effort to lure the grand final to Perth’s Optus Stadium, while Stadium Australia in Sydney and Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium had also launched as other Plan B stadiums. options.
However, the Sunshine State only registered two new local Covid-19 cases on both Friday and Saturday, leaving the door open for the NRL’s grand final to go ahead as scheduled at Suncorp Stadium.
The game will continue at a 75 percent capacity – or 39,000 fans – in accordance with new regulations introduced by the Queensland government on Thursday.
“(It’s) full steam ahead for tomorrow night,” V’landys told 2GB’s Continuous call team on Saturday.
“At this stage, it’s all good…there are no cases that they can’t track.
“If that continues tomorrow, it will be a restless night for me and the NRL team, tomorrow will be the day.
“If there is a lockdown, we should consider postponing the game and moving it to Townsville.
“We will not do that unilaterally, we will certainly talk to the two coaches, the two clubs, to hear their views and make a decision.
“I hope that doesn’t happen and that there won’t be any cases that they can’t track and that we’ll be full steam ahead tomorrow night.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 6:30 PM local time, which is 7:30 PM AEDT.
During Friday’s press conference, the coaches of both sides said their playing groups would not be alarmed by any last-minute changes to the game.
“It’s comparable to so many other weeks we’ve had,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said of the chaotic build-up to the grand final.
“It’s just one of those seasons.
“We haven’t really talked about it at all. What happens, happens.”
Cleary’s red-and-green counterpart, Wayne Bennett, said an 11-hour delay would not hinder his players’ performance.
“The players are ready to play; if they have to play tomorrow, next week, the week after, they will play,” he said.
“It’s something we have no control over. There is no conversation to be had. We don’t talk about it, we prepare for Sunday. If something changes, it changes.”
Originally published as ‘Full speed ahead’: ARLC chairman Peter V’landys confirms NRL large final location