The NSW Government was ensuring the current outbreak does not spread to regional NSW. While there is no community infection in Newcastle, the worsening COVID situation in Sydney over the last couple of days caused the NSW Government to believe hosting a major event in a regional community with a crowd could create additional risk to the community.
Given that there will be no live crowd permitted for the event the Commission held an emergency meeting this evening and decided to move the match interstate to ensure a viable event and live match atmosphere for the final Ampol State of Origin match in the series.
The decision means the Gold Coast will host Ampol State of Origin for the first time in the city’s history. A capacity crowd of over 27,000 will be allowed to attend Wednesday night’s game.
NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the game wanted to reward Newcastle’s support of rugby league, but needed to respect the NSW Government’s decision.
“We are disappointed not to be able to give Newcastle the city’s first State of Origin, but we must operate within all State Public Health Orders and not having a crowd in Newcastle negates the opportunity for our fans from the region,’’ he said.
Mr Abdo said relocating to the Gold Coast presented a low risk option and would not impact either camp.
“The Gold Coast has a very low infection rate and both Origin camps are currently located within driving distance of Cbus Stadium. It means neither team will be disadvantaged by travel,’’ he said.
“This is an exciting outcome for the Gold Coast. It will be the first time in history that the Gold Coast has hosted State of Origin.
“The Gold Coast is an important market for us and in the current circumstances presents a safe outcome for the community and a great outcome for our fans in southeast Queensland.
“It does mean all three games are played in Queensland, but our priority is ensuring the safety of the community and the continuity of the competition.”
“I want to thank the Queensland Government for yet again providing their support rugby league.
“I’d also like to thank Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate for his strong advocacy for Ampol State of Origin to come to Cbus Stadium and the support of Destination Gold Coast.”