The NRL is firming to hold Sunday’s grand final in Brisbane as planned after just two new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Queensland on Saturday.
Fears of a postponement or relocation have been mostly allayed a day out from the historic first decider at Suncorp Stadium, as case numbers in the state remain low with no spread in the community.
Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath stopped short of handing out a green light for the decider but gave the best indication yet the South Sydney and Penrith blockbuster will go ahead.
“A day is a long time with COVID-19 but things are looking really positive,” she said on Saturday morning.
“To know that we had five clusters happening, and the reality is we have not seen any community transmission beyond the actual workplace and household contacts, is great news.
“But it’s reliant on people coming forward and getting tested so we can see if there is any transmission happening out there and we can get on top of it very quickly.
“But standing here today with beautiful clear skies … it’s going to be a glorious long weekend and if people keep coming to get tested and vaccinated we’re very hopeful we’ll have a great weekend.”
So far, Queensland has avoided a lockdown after cases of community transmission popped up in the state on Tuesday.
It has thrown the NRL’s planning for Sunday’s event into chaos with contingency plans varying from relocation to Townsville to a postponement of the game for at least a week if crowds were banned.
Western Australia also reportedly put in a bid to host the decider if a postponement was forced due to a lockdown in Queensland.
However, it’s understood the game will stay in the sunshine state.
The NRL had been hoping the outbreak stayed contained and Saturday’s low case numbers will be a sigh of relief for the league after an anxious wait that will continue for one more day.
The Queensland government has said they will not give the go-ahead for the game to be played with 75 per cent crowds as planned until Sunday morning, pending case numbers.
Crowd numbers have already been cut from 52,000 to 39,000 at 75 per cent capacity. That could be dropped even further should the outbreak get out of control over the next 24 hours.