I reckon Annastacia Palaszczuk deserves plenty of praise for bringing the NRL grand final to Queensland for the first time, but she had plenty of help – going back almost a century...
When the last two teams standing run out onto Suncorp Stadium on Sunday October 3 it will be the fulfillment of a dream that many thought might never come true. The letters NRL might officially stand for National Rugby League, but plenty of Queenslanders over the years would tell you the ‘N’ was really for NSW.
When the game’s powerbrokers signed a 25-year agreement to play the code’s biggest club match in Sydney, it looked like Queensland had been shut out for the next quarter century at least. COVID, plus a healthy injection of taxpayer’s dollars, changed all that, but regardless of the circumstances, I prefer to see it as a reward for the incredible support the people of Queensland have shown the game of rugby league from day one.
Anyone born prior to the arrival of the Broncos in 1988 would be unaware of the strength of the game throughout the state well before that. It was hands down the number one football code in Queensland and the local Brisbane Rugby League competition which kicked off in 1922 was every bit as hard fought and popular as anything being played in Sydney.
In terms of public support little has changed and whenever the game has undergone setbacks, it has been Queensland and Queenslanders who have come to the rescue. When rugby league was suffering from a poor public image and low crowd numbers in the late 1970s it was the first Origin game on the site of Suncorp Stadium in 1980 that gave it the biggest financial and popularity boost in Australian sports history. Down in Sydney, they said it would be a one-off exhibition game that no-one would take seriously. Queensland players and supporters proved them wrong then and continue to do so, year after year.
It has been the same story time and time again. When the NRL needs to establish a beachhead in Victoria, who do they turn to for the necessary administrative and player personnel? Queenslanders. When crowds drop off in Sydney and clubs run low of cash, where to they head? To Suncorp Stadium for the Magic Round. When COVID threatens to close the competition down and the game is in turmoil, who offers a lifeline? Queensland. The list goes on and on.
Premier Palaszczuk and her government might have provided the safe environment and signed the cheque to secure the NRL’s Big Show, but I reckon it was recognition of the unqualified loyalty and support of Queensland rugby league supporters that set the platform.
What do YOU reckon?
Agree: Suncorp Stadium deserves this Grand Final. We should make it more common in the future allowing for more QLD Grand Finals.
Disagree: No, 2021 can be the QLD Grand Final but it's just on loan from it's home in Sydney where it belongs.