Sport Rugby League State of Origin opener moved to Townsville amid Vic outbreak
Updated:

State of Origin opener moved to Townsville amid Vic outbreak

Dale Cherry-Evans will captain the Queensland side. Photo: AAP
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Townsville will host State of Origin game one on June 9, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has announced on Facebook.

The game was initially scheduled for the MCG, but the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria has forced a change of venue.

Initially, the NRL had been looking at another “neutral” venue such as Perth, Adelaide or Canberra.

But on Monday afternoon the league announced that North Queensland Stadium would host the opening game of the series.

Before the announcement, Queensland coach Paul Green – a premiership-winning coach of the Townsville-based Cowboys – was asked where he expected game one to be held.

“If it’s not going to be in Melbourne, by all reports it looks like it will be in Townsville,” he said.

“It would be enormous for the area [if it happens]. When the stadium was built there was talk of getting more big events, including Origin.

“Given the capacity, that was a bit of a stretch, but given the circumstances we’re in right now [with COVID] where it’s short notice, it’s probably ideal.

“I imagine it will sell out pretty quickly, and they’ll really embrace the event as a city.”

Green said the region was “rugby league-mad”.

“They’ll really embrace the event as a city. I’m sure there will be street parties and closures, rock bands and all sorts of things going on, so they love there footy up there – it will be a great event.”

The Maroons coach named his 20-man squad earlier on Monday. It includes Cowboys players Kyle Feldt, Valentine Holmes and Coen Hess.

NSW coach Brad Fittler announced his squad on Sunday.