Townsville will host the State of Origin series opener with the NRL to announcing the decision to move the game away from the MCG.
The Courier Mail is reporting that the Victorian Government agreed to shift the game to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium due to the ongoing COVID outbreak in the state.
With the game to be played on Wednesday, June 9, the NRL had to weigh up whether Townsville would be selected over Canberra, Perth or Adelaide.
The Maroons will now have effectively two straight home games with Game 2 set for Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, June 27.
The $290 million-dollar stadium opened in 2020, and Queensland coach Paul Green told the Courier that it’s an ideal replacement for the MCG.
“When the stadium got built, there was chat around getting more events and State of Origin got tossed up,” Green said.
“Given its capacity (25,000) it’s a bit of a stretch, but given the circumstances we are in at the moment where it’s short notice, I think it’s ideal.
“They love their footy up there (in Townsville) so it would be great.”
While some are suggesting the game should have been held in Canberra, Green said it is rightfully Queensland’s turn to host both fixtures.
“The NRL can’t toss up Canberra as a neutral venue as a reasonable argument,” he said.
“This Melbourne game was Queensland’s game, it was our turn in the calendar to have two home games, so we are the home team for the MCG game. If that is the case, then the game can’t be held in Canberra.
“Townsville is a great option. For a start, you would sell it out. The weather up there at this time of year is beautiful, it’s a footy mad area and they have just built a new stadium which would be perfect to host a marquee event like State of Origin.
“It would be like a mini-Suncorp, I am sure both teams would enjoy playing there.”
Both teams have now announced their playing squads ahead of Game 1.
Photo: Aus Stadiums