State of Origin series opener in iconic MCG


Australia National Rugby League ‘State of Origin’ series back at MCG Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The epochal Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne (Australia) has been locked in to host game one of the 2021 State of Origin series, Brisbane will be the venue for the second match with Sydney scoring the series finale.

The State of Origin series is an annual best-of-three rugby league series between two Australian State representative sides, the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. The NRL also takes the series to other markets, with the 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval (in North Adelaide, Australia) staging a game last year and Perth’s Optus Stadium hosting a clash in 2019.

The 1,00,024-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground, also known locally as ‘The G’, is an Australian sports stadium located in Yarra Park, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia).

A statement on the National Rugby League (NRL) website stated that the Ampol State of Origin Series will kick off in Melbourne on June 9th, 2021, before the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium (in Milton, Australia) gets its turn on June 27th. The 82,500-capacity Stadium Australia (in Sydney, Australia) will be the venue for the third fixture on July 14th.

The National Rugby League (NRL) is Australia’s top-level domestic men’s rugby league club competition.

NRL boss Andrew Abdo observed that returning to play Origin in Melbourne for the first time since 2018 was about showcasing rugby league to as many people as possible in a COVID-safe environment with the MCG representing an important opportunity to do that.

The NRL website further quoted Abdo as stating, “We’re excited to be taking Australia’s biggest sporting brand to Melbourne for the 10th time. The last year has been incredibly challenging for Victorians with the extended lockdowns and challenges. We’re delighted to be bringing Ampol State of Origin back to the City. It will give fans an exceptional live sports experience, and bring interState visitors back to the hotels and restaurants.”

For Blues coach Brad Fittler, entrusted with the task of regaining the Origin shield, playing the third game in Sydney is a risk for his team so he is calling on NSW fans to come out in horde, especially in Melbourne.

The New South Wales rugby league team – also called the Blues – has represented the Australian State of New South Wales in rugby league football since the sport’s beginnings there in 1907.

Stated Fittler, “I have always been supportive of taking Origin to other markets outside of Sydney and Brisbane and I have particularly good memories of my first game in Melbourne as the Blues coach in 2018.”

“In saying that we really need our fans to get on board for Melbourne too. We really missed not having the support of our large Blatchys Blues fan base in the final game in Brisbane last year because of COVID restrictions. We have plenty of Blatchys seats available and would love to see our current fans and new fans proudly wearing the blue wig.”

Paul Green, who has taken over the Queensland coaching reins from Wayne Bennett, believes the Maroons will have the fans on their side in Melbourne.

Said Green, “We’re really looking forward to getting down there and putting in a performance that all Maroons fans can be proud of. Victorians have been through a challenging period and while we now live in uncertain times, we know how much they love their sport and an Origin match at the MCG is a fantastic way to showcase our game.”

He further added, “We also know how much Origin means to the people of Queensland, so it will be great to get back to Suncorp Stadium for game two with a really good performance under our belts.”

The Queensland rugby league team represents the Australian State of Queensland in rugby league football. Nicknamed the ‘Maroons’, after the color of their jersey, the team plays three times a year against arch-rivals New South Wales in the State of Origin series.

Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula was thrilled to be welcoming State of Origin back to the MCG – “This is a win for all sports fans and we’ll work with the NRL to ensure that Melbourne puts on a spectacular show while protecting the health of the wider community.”

The deciding game of the 2020 State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium back in November attracted a crowd of 49,155, which marked the biggest attendance in world sport since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in March 2020.

Last year’s games at the Adelaide Oval and ANZ Stadium attracted crowds of 24,218 and 36,212, respectively, in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions.

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