New Zealand Prime Minister Squashes NRL Grand Final Rumours
risbane remains the top contender to host the NRL grand final, as New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has suggested that NZ is an unlikely candidate for the game.
Last Weekend, NRL CEO, Andre Abdo, told the Sydney Morning Herald, that New Zealand was in the mix to host the NRL grand final if crowds remained barred from attending games in Australia.
However, the New Zealand Prime Minister quickly highlighted the significant challenges associated with moving the decider to NZ.
“There’s a number of hurdles, but the biggest I’d say is the quarantine hurdle,” Ardern said
The conversation was initiated following Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener, which was played in front of 47,000 fans at Auckland’s Eden Park after the Wallabies were allowed entry into New Zealand as part of the now-closed Trans-Tasman bubble.
Ardern rejected that the Wallabies received any special treatment, “That was earlier on in our closure, so [there was] less risk at that time,” she said.
“We treated [the Wallabies] the same as New Zealanders.
“You remember we had that one-week window where you could come in? They came in that one-week window.
“That’s now over. The NRL teams would have to go into quarantine – just like every other New Zealander from Australia,” she said.
Ardern also questioned the match scheduling, flagging that given the time difference, a 7:30 pm AEST kick-off on Sunday, September 26, would mean a 10:30 pm local time start.
Considering that the NRL has been relocated to QLD, and restrictions now easing to allow a 50% crowd capacity at games, Brisbane looks like it’s in the lead to host the grand final.
Andre Abdo told the Sydney Herald, “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,” he said.
However, the grand final being played in front of a crowd would also mean a slight release of financial strain that has been placed on the NRL, as a result of the zero crowd attendance throughout the 2021 season.
“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,” Abdo concluded.
The NRL will make their decision at the beginning of the finals series which is due to kick off in four weeks time.