Could Perth host the opening game of the 2021 State of Origin series?
It’s an option according to NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo as Victoria’s COVID outbreak worsens on Wednesday.
Game One of the 2021 series had been slated for June 9 at the MCG — but there’s fears of a locked out crowd and concerns players would unable to return to other States should border closures be put in place in response to the growing outbreak.
Already, AFL fans who attended a match at the MCG last Sunday have been ordered to undergo COVID tests after person with coronavirus attended the Port Adelaide-Collingwood match.
Speaking on Tuesday, Abdo confirmed a neutral venue would be strongly considered for the prestigious match, given one game is already locked in for both Sydney and Brisbane.
“Clearly, State of Origin is coming up pretty soon and we need to think about what happens with Victorian State Government protocols but also with exemptions required for travel,” he said.
“It’s early days. At this stage, we are monitoring the situation very carefully but if we have to increase the protocols [for players] we will and if we need to consider a contingency plan for where we play Origin I, we will.
“We are looking at several venues for that but we would have to see a significant increase in the number of community cases and the potential for lockdown in Victoria before we would consider that.”
Since Abdo spoke to media, a further five cases have been recorded overnight in Victoria.
While Perth could be in the running, Adelaide and Canberra are also options.
Adelaide (2020) and Perth (2019) have both played host to a State of Origin match in recent years.