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Australia NRL grand final will be a 'once-in-a-lifetime' event for Brisbane's Lang Park

01:50  26 september  2021
01:50  26 september  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

NRL grand final will be a 'once-in-a-lifetime' event for Brisbane's Lang Park

  NRL grand final will be a 'once-in-a-lifetime' event for Brisbane's Lang Park This year's NRL season has put an unprecedented workload on staff at Lang Park, who plan to make the historic Queensland grand final unforgettable.But with capacity for just 52,000 people at the historic Queensland NRL grand final on October 3, it'll fail in comparison to record crowds seen in the past: 107,999 in 1999 at Sydney Olympic Park being the benchmark.

Fans gathered at the Queensland Cauldron, Lang Park, which will host the historic Queensland NRL grand final on October 3. (ABC News: Brittney Kleyn) © Provided by ABC News Fans gathered at the Queensland Cauldron, Lang Park, which will host the historic Queensland NRL grand final on October 3. (ABC News: Brittney Kleyn)

It'll be another sell-out at the Queensland Cauldron, Lang Park.

But with capacity for just 52,000 people at the historic Queensland NRL grand final on October 3, it'll fail in comparison to record crowds seen in the past: 107,999 in 1999 at Sydney Olympic Park being the benchmark.

The NSW government has secured the contract for the NRL decider until 2046, so COVID-19 has given Queensland a rare opportunity.

Lang Park's stadium manager Alan Graham knows they've got one shot.

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"As a passionate Queenslander, growing up loving rugby league, I don't think you could have a greater wish than to have the NRL grand final in your backyard," he said.

The grand final will be the 42nd game of rugby league at Lang Park in 2021 — that's more than double what would be scheduled during a regular season.

State of Origin and the Magic Round have given staff an insight into what to expect on Sunday night, but one thing impossible to recreate will be that local-team tribalism.

The fan experience

The first release of tickets sold out, with the NRL reserving supporter bays to go on sale on Monday for club members.

Now that we know that Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs will go head-to-head, members of both clubs will be offered the remaining tickets on Monday morning.

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With borders closed, it's unlikely many loyal Panthers and Rabbitohs followers can make the pilgrimage to Brisbane, so tickets that aren't snapped up will go back on sale to the public on Monday at 4:00pm.

While health restrictions in Queensland allow Lang Park to be at full capacity, masks are still mandatory, although people will be able to take them off while seated.

"People will need to wear a mask, not only on arrival but also when circulating around the stadium," Graham said.

All fans will also need to check in using the Queensland Health app, Check in Qld.

Game could be in North Queensland if COVID-19 cases emerge

There is a contingency in place should a COVID-19 outbreak prevent the game going ahead in Brisbane.

"The government in negotiating the deal for the grand final always contemplated that they'd need a backup position," Graham told the ABC. "[The] contingency plan is to look at playing in Townsville if, for whatever reason, we're unable to hold the event here."

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Passionate North Queenslanders in Cowboy Country would no doubt welcome the NRL's showpiece with open arms.

Townsville hosted the first ever State of Origin match to be played in a regional centre this year, after a COVID-19 outbreak prevented game one from taking place in Melbourne.

The first two weeks of this year's NRL finals series were also played in regional Queensland, with games in Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton.

Feeding a full house

Retail manager Craig Walters is responsible for ensuring there's enough food on Sunday to feed the full house at Lang Park.

"I think with the two events, like the State of Origin and the Magic Round, that gives us a really good insight as to what it's going to be for grand final day," he said.

So, 3,000 pies and 1,500 mixed pastries have been ordered.

His staff also expect to sell 12,000 serves of hot chips, 6,000 hot dogs, 3,000 burgers and 14,000 soft drinks.

And, of course, there's also thousands of kegs of beer being trucked in.

Mr Walters said anticipation was already building for his staff.

"I say to my kids and a lot of my mates, 'It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I can't see it coming back to Brisbane', but I certainly hope it does, so we're all very excited," he said.

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Mr Walters also said he had been able to put on more staff, with the increased schedule this season at Lang Park.

"[Staff are] glad to have that secure employment and it's great that we can keep the NRL going and really good for our fans that really love this stadium," he added.

Local prawns, Longreach lamb

Chef Bevan Campbell is overseeing 22 kitchens that will be in operation on grand final day, manned by 80 staff to serve the 5,000 fans who will watch the game from corporate boxes.

"It's the showpiece of the year. It's the first time we've ever had it here, so everyone's really up for it," Mr Campbell said.

He has made sure the menu has a distinct Queensland flavour, ordering 1,000 kilograms of local prawns and 1,000 kilograms of lamb from Longreach.

His staff will hand-make 10,000 pies, another 3,000 tarts and pastries, 10,000 spring rolls and 2,500 mini-burgers.

"Come Sunday, we'll be going through about 10 tonne of food," Mr Campbell said.

That's off the back of a double-header this weekend of preliminary finals.

"Some of the team have been together for 15 years, and we never dreamt this would happen in our lifetime, so it's a special occasion for us all," he said.

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