The third game of this season’s State of Origin series will be played this Wednesday on the Gold Coast, after the NSW Government informed the Australian Rugby League Commission today that the game could not be held in Newcastle because of crowd concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak that has hit Sydney and its surrounding districts.
The Greater Sydney region, including Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, remains under strict lockdown until Friday 16 July and the NSW Government did not want to take a risk that the outbreak could spread to Regional NSW, which includes the city of Newcastle, which has remained COVID-19 free.
While there has been no community transmission in Newcastle, the NSW Government expressed concern that hosting a major event with a crowd in a regional community could pose a risk. The game at McDonald Jones Stadium was going to be at 75 per cent capacity, or 20,000.
NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said: “As you would expect we are disappointed for all our fans in NSW who don’t have the opportunity to celebrate this great team winning the series, but given the circumstances around the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW we understand the decision and are grateful for the opportunity to still play Game Three.
“Our goal is still the same, regardless of where we play. We want to make it a clean sweep and if we were to become the first Blues team in 21 years to do that, and do it by winning all three games in Queensland, that would probably be a record that will never be broken.”
The NSW Blues have already reclaimed the Shield after winning the opening two games in Townsville and Brisbane. This will be the first time three Origin games have been held in Queensland with the Blues looking to win the series 3-0 for the first time in 21 years.