Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium has been confirmed as the venue for the final match of the 2021 State of Origin III rugby league, with Stadium Australia’s move prompted by the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in Sydney.
Following speculation that the match will be moved to the Newcastle venue, 20,000 spectators will be allowed to attend the match (75% of its capacity) on 14 July.
However, fans of Greater Sydney and the surrounding areas of the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour will not be allowed.
Stadium Australia was ruled out by the NRL last week with Newcastle seen as the favorites ahead of AAMI Park in Melbourne and a second game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Warning that Newcastle’s organization of their very first Origin clash “would make history,” Andrew Abdo, NRL chief executive, said “this is a reward for the people of the Newcastle area and Hunter.
“These fans are some of the most passionate fans of our game. They support the Knights every week and we are delighted to bring Ampol State of Origin to Newcastle.”
The change of venue for Game 3 of the series comes after the opener was moved from the MCG to Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville due to the Victoria lockdown.
ARL committee chairman Peter V’landys said on Friday he was confident the game would be played in Newcastle, with only additional restrictions preventing the crowd from moving him elsewhere.
Crowds in the NSW area, including Newcastle, are currently limited to 50% of capacity, but this will increase to 75% of the seating capacity for the match – the same as Melbourne on July 14 when the match is scheduled .
The Sydney lockdown has meant NRL games have been played in empty stadiums since last weekend, while the Roosters and Rabbitohs have moved home games to McDonald Jones Stadium. Containment has been extended today by at least a week.
V’landys told Sydney 2GB radio station last Friday “we’re realistic, I don’t think we can get it at Stadium Australia.” It’s only four or five days after the lockdown and there’s still a lag between opening everything and locking it down, so I’d be surprised if Stadium Australia was allowed to have people.
“We are looking at various options. We would like to keep him in New South Wales and Newcastle is definitely one of the areas we are looking at.
“We have had fairly positive discussions with the government and hope to be able to make a decision this afternoon.”
“It’s the heart of the rugby league and if we can get things done through the NSW government I’m pretty confident we’ll get it in Newcastle.”
Despite the first two games played in Queensland, NSW has already won the series with two dominant displays.
Tickets will be available from Monday at 9 a.m. for QRL, NSWRL and Knights members and at 11 a.m. for the general public. Tickets can be purchased online from Ticketmaster.
Image: McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
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April 21, 2021 – State of Origin returns to Optus Stadium in 2022
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January 8, 2021 – NSW Venues tells Sydney fans not to attend tonight’s A-League and W-League games in Newcastle
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