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Queensland to snap up Wallabies test amid fears of tighter NSW restrictions

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With fears of a looming NSW state-wide lockdown, Rugby Australia says shifting the SCG Test against France from Sydney to Brisbane is the safest option.

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Buoyed by a capacity crowd of over 50,000 who attended the second State of Origin rugby league match on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium, RA boss Andy Marinos hopes the Wallabies-French Test on July 7 can enjoy similar freedoms at the same venue.

With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to worsen in Sydney, the first and third Tests will be played in Brisbane and the second as a hit and run mission to Melbourne.

The two teams will share a charter flight from Queensland to the Victorian capital and will look to fly back together after the AAMI Park match on July 13.

The Wallabies are currently based on the Gold Coast while the French are in quarantine in Sydney and will fly to Brisbane when they exit the day before the first Test.

“Newcastle was an option but with the hard lockdown coming into Sydney there was no guarantee that wasn’t going to be extended outside of that area to capture the regional areas,” Marinos said on Monday.

“Brisbane is probably our safest bet at this point in time.

“We saw a wonderful celebration of sport at Suncorp – fantastic game, full crowds so we will keep tuned into the health officials.”

Marinos said he was in daily contact with France manager Raphael Ibanez and they had been “very understanding of the situation”.

“They’re certainly not immune to it – they had to deal with it during the Six Nations so they’ve been really fantastic to work with,” he said.

RA have transferred existing tickets from the SCG Test to a Wallabies-Springboks Test at the same venue in September and offered refunds as an alternative, and with Brisbane Tests usually well attended, they don’t expect to take too much of a financial hit from the move.

“We’ve seen the people of Queensland have supported major events and we’re pretty confident we will get a good crowd that will be able to manage the impact,” Marinos said.

“It’s a bit difficult at this stage to say what that hole will be but we’ve got a whole lot of mitigation strategies in place to try to reduce that as much as possible if there’s going to be one at all.”

 

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