NRL CEO considering option of hosting grand final in NZ

Publish Date
Monday, 9 August 2021, 9:05AM
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The NRL is considering holding the grand final in New Zealand after seeing the Wallabies play the All Blacks in front of a massive crowd at Eden Park in Auckland.

The game's governing body is desperate to have the showpiece event of the season played in front of a crowd and is investigating all possibilities in light of the Covid-19 outbreak in New South Wales and Victoria.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo is seriously considering the idea of holding the grand final in New Zealand.

A crowd of 47,000 attended the Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night, which the All Blacks won 33-25.

The second match of the series will also be played at Eden Park this Saturday with a large crowd again expected.

Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium remains the favourite to host the NRL grand final, due to the league's decision to uproot the competition and hold the remaining rounds of the season in Queensland.

Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp and part-owner Bart Campbell are also pushing hard for the decided to be played at the MCG, but that appears unlikely at this stage.

The sight of a near-capacity crowd at Auckland's Eden Park has given the NRL plenty of "food for thought".

"An opportunity to play under an exemption in New Zealand, in front of a full house, is an option if we can't play elsewhere in Australia," Abdo told the SMH.

"We're not ruling anything out at this point.

"You want the grand final to be played in front of a crowd, giving fans an opportunity to watch the climax to the season live.

"But we genuinely can't answer where it will be played until we have a clearer picture of the infection rates in each market and whichever government's relevant policy at the time."

Even though New Zealand has no Covid cases in the community, holding the grand final would be a logistical challenge.

The New Zealand government gave the Wallabies a travel exemption so they could go across the ditch without having to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period after the travel bubble was suspended for eight weeks.

"Saturday night's match means we have a precedent in terms of getting an exemption from the New Zealand government," Abdo said.

"Those exemptions are based on economic impact and the grand final would qualify for that."

If the grand final was to be played in New Zealand, the NRL would require a similar exemption because a two-week quarantine wouldn't be possible for two teams needing to stay in peak physical condition.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission