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Sport 'They deserve a dead rubber': Blues boss slams Queensland Premier

12:51  30 october  2020
12:51  30 october  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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  'They deserve a dead rubber': Blues boss slams Queensland Premier © AAP

NSWRL powerbrokers hope Origin III at Suncorp Stadium becomes a ''dead rubber'' after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced the sunshine state's borders would remain closed.

Premier Palaszczuk's decision - which many suspected was made with Saturday's Queensland election in mind - has wrecked Sydneysiders' hopes of heading north for the November 18 Brisbane blockbuster. Maroons supporters face the same dilemma trying to return from Sydney for Origin II on November 11.

The last thing the Blues want is a potential series decider in Brisbane, especially if they are confronted by a sea of 39,000 Maroons fans and next to no Blues supporters.

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NSWRL boss Dave Trodden was disappointed Palaszczuk's decision had robbed the Sydney and Brisbane games of the all-important ''tribalism'' that exists at any given Origin game, especially given Covid cases had remained so low.

Trodden fears fans who are in the habit of attending big games may not return at all once the restrictions are lifted.

"I really hope we give them a dead rubber now,'' Trodden told the Herald. "They almost deserve for it to be a dead rubber up there, don't they?

"We knew it was going to be difficult to get up to Queensland, but we were still hopeful that after their election there might be some relaxation [around the border restrictions] and fans could get up there.

"Rugby league has always been built on tribal rivalries. It's important to people, and when you take away what is important to people, it's difficult for them. Everyone understood the restrictions when there was a justifiable medical reason for them.

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"But when the infection rate is so low - the few infections in NSW are from overseas travellers - it's difficult to understand what the justifiable medical reason is now. I'm struggling to get my head around the logic of it all.

"I read the papers and watch the TV news and you hear people talk about how important tourism is to the Queensland people and their economy, and how important it is to get back to normality. But that rhetoric doesn't match the decisions being made around the border closures.''

Next Wednesday's opener in Adelaide will feature around 25,000 fans, with both teams to fly in and fly out on game day. ANZ Stadium will cater for 40,000 fans in game two, while Suncorp can hold just under 40,000, or 75 per cent of their capacity.

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So strict are the Covid protocols north of the Tweed, all players and staff inside the Maroons bubble will need to isolate at home for a further two weeks once the series is completed and if the players reside in Queensland.

The Blues are staying at Magenta Shore on the Central Coast for the month. All 27 players will travel to Adelaide next Wednesday.

Trodden feared the difficulties in getting fans to games could become a permanent problem.

"The bigger problem is you interrupt the culture of attending games, and the longer that interruption goes, the harder it will be to get people comfortable attending games again,'' he said.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, who has been advising Palaszczuk, said on Friday all 32 local government areas (LGAs) in Sydney should be viewed as 'coronavirus 'hotspots''.

"There are 4.8 million people who live in those LGAs in Sydney... they are the risk, they are the ones moving around,'' Young said.

The Origin series normally generates around $100m, and a softening of border restrictions would have also helped NSWRL and the Queensland Rugby League's bottom line.

The Blues will train on Saturday with fullback James Tedesco hoping his left knee survives the main session so he can wear the No. 1 next week.

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