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Silver lining to latest outbreak - look who won't be coming to Origin

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The NRL is facing a serious shortage of NSW fans at State of Origin II in Brisbane after Queensland declared all of greater Sydney a COVID-19 hotspot.

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It follows travel restrictions imposed by the NSW government on Wednesday on certain parts of Sydney amid a growing outbreak which has prompted states to slam shut their borders.

Queensland has banned travellers from greater Sydney, including Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong from entering the state from 1am on Thursday.

Blues fans from these areas were expected to flock into Queensland for the sold out Origin II clash on Sunday night, however, that support will now be severely affected by the latest border restrictions.

Fans travelling to Women’s Origin on the Sunshine Coast on Friday night will also be impacted.

The majority of Blues fans who purchased tickets are now located in hot zones, and unless they arrived in Queensland before 1am on Thursday morning, they will not be allowed into the state.

Roughly 1000 ticketholders were sent an email by the NRL on Wednesday morning from the seven local government areas (LGAs) of concern, detailing their options to obtain a refund.

That number will now blow out given the latest border closures between NSW and Queensland.

It will come as a huge blow to the Blues, who can win the series with a victory at Suncorp Stadium after a 50-6 win in front of a parochial Queensland crowd in Townsville a fortnight ago.

It comes after NSW announced 16 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, promoting a range of restrictions across greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Blue Mountains for one week.

Stricter restrictions, including a travel ban, were imposed in seven LGAs with The City of Sydney, Woollahra, Bayside, Canada Bay, Inner West and Randwick added to the already listed hotspot of Waverley.

A number of NRL staff, media and families of Origin players reside in these areas and made a desperate dash to Queensland for Sunday’s game to avoid border closures on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Queensland government has confirmed the border closures will not be backdated, meaning anyone who arrives in the state from a hotspot area before 1am will not have to do 14 days of quarantine.

“I know this is a difficult time, but my priority is always the health and safety of Queenslanders,” said the state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young.

“The sharp rise of cases in Sydney today is extremely concerning due to many of these cases being infected by fleeting contact.

“The Delta variant is much more contagious than other variants and we do not want it circulating in Queensland.”

The NSW Origin camp in Kingscliff will remain unaffected and are expected to be free to enter Queensland for game two after completing border declarations upon arrival at Gold Coast airport on Monday.

Recently retired ex-Blues captain Boyd Cordner is safely in Queensland after leaving Sydney’s eastern suburbs and will also be free to attend Sunday night’s clash at Suncorp Stadium.

It’s understood some families of Origin players have already travelled to Queensland to avoid any issues, while some media outlets were scrambling to get staff into the state on Wednesday.

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