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Premier's preference for no State of Origin match in Brisbane this year


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ruled out Brisbane hosting a State of Origin game during the coronavirus pandemic, saying she hopes the interstate series is scrapped this year.

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Palaszczuk refused to support a mooted plan to send Queensland clubs to Sydney in order for the NRL to restart on May 28, saying she is “really concerned” about the health risk to players.

A vocal critic of the NRL’s plan to resume the competition late next month, Palaszczuk upped the ante on Tuesday when she said this year’s Origin series won’t be played during the pandemic.

“I love the footy as much as everyone else. I think it’s devastating we’re not going to see the State of Origin this year as well,” the Queensland Premier told Nine Network.

When pressed on whether she thought the series will be held this year, Palaszczuk said: “I hope there’s not (an Origin series).

“We always have a State of Origin, but how can you have it?

“Maybe in December? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

The NRL is yet to unveil what the rest of the 2020 season looks like after announcing its planned resumption date, with the league set to enter negotiations with broadcasters on Tuesday to discuss a modified competition.

It has confirmed this year’s Origin series will remain in a standard three-game format but is yet to confirm dates.

The 2020 Origin series was due to kick off in Adelaide on June 3 but that has been scrapped due to COVID-19, reverting the interstate clashes back to Sydney and Brisbane.

Brisbane was initially scheduled to host game three on July 8.

But Sydney may be the sole host after the Queensland premier reiterated her government would not be relaxing quarantine laws, scuttling plans for an Origin game to be played in Brisbane during the shutdown.

Queensland has enacted strict movement restrictions during the coronavirus threat in which there is a mandatory 14-day isolation period for anyone allowed entry.

“If NSW has different health advice to me, go for it. But we have very strict health advice here and I’ll be listening to my health experts,” she said.

Palaszczuk is not a fan of a proposal to send Queensland clubs Gold Coast, Brisbane and North Queensland to Sydney in order to avoid quarantine laws and ensure the NRL’s resumption.

“I’m really concerned about my Queensland players going down to Sydney,” she said.

“All you need is one community transmission down in Sydney and the whole team could possibly have it.

“It would have to be very strict quarantine. I’d have to get health advice from my chief health officer.

“We’re either going to listen to the health advice or we’re not – I’m not making any apologies for that.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the NRL won’t be given any “special arrangements” to aid their ambitious plan to recommence the season in May.

Morrison welcomed the NRL’s efforts to restart the suspended season after the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but warned against doing so hastily.

“I like the ambition. I like they are trying to get the show back on the road in some way,” Morrison said on The Nine Network on Tuesday.

“It will be subject to health advice and there will be no special arrangements.”

Morrison’s comments precede the NRL’s critical negotiations with broadcasters on Tuesday to discuss a modified competition.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys will meet with Nine while NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg sits down with Fox Sports.

Morrison welcomed the code’s plans to return.

“I like (that) the people are planning to try and get Australia back to normal,” Morrison said on the Seven Network.

“But obviously, all of these things will be subject to the health advice and the health clearances that are necessary.”

The NRL recently made public a letter from NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller that outlined the game’s ability to restart should it clear health hurdles.

Fuller insisted on Monday that the NRL was just like other businesses attempting to stay open, provided it met the health requirements outlined to the game in a letter last week.

He also said he would work with the health department to allow teams to travel to the state to train and play, with as many as six sides set to do so from across state borders and New Zealand.

Teams would begin training from early next month, before the planned resumption of the competition on May 28.

“I would certainly be happy to work with health in terms of teams coming here and undertaking reasonable isolation,” Fuller said.

“This has all been about protecting the people of NSW. Health is number one and it will remain that.

“Social distancing and hygiene, the Premier has said will go on for not months, but years.

“But when restrictions change businesses need to be ready to move. There’s no point in waiting.

“You need to think about hygiene and social distancing now for the coming months.”

Morrison said that health advice has to be paramount.

“I have no doubt that the NRL and the other codes understand that and they will comply with that,” Morrison said.

“But I welcome the fact that people are thinking ahead and working out ways they can get things back on stronger footing.

“That is certainly what we’re doing as a National Cabinet, whether it is the economy or health or any of these issues.”

-AAP, Matt Encarnacion

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