NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo says it will not rule out the MCG hosting the State of Origin series opener on June 9, despite Melbourne entering a seven-day lockdown amid its coronavirus outbreak.
- Melbourne enters a seven-day lockdown from midnight
- The NRL will consider moving Origin I to Lang Park or the SCG
- The league says it prefers not to play the match in an empty MCG
But Abdo said the NRL was considering the option of moving Origin I to an alternative venue.
Melbourne will begin its lockdown period from midnight after the number of positive cases reached 26, with 11 new cases recorded overnight.
The NRL is weighing up whether to move the match between Queensland and New South Wales to another venue outside of Victoria but Abdo said the league would monitor the situation in Melbourne before making any decision.
“We want to make sure that we give Melbourne every chance of hosting game one, which is coming up in a couple of weeks,” he said.
“Should that not be the case then we’ll consider safety, we’ll consider a number of factors in looking at alternative venues. Nothing is off the table. We’ll be looking at a wide range of potential locations.”
Abdo said the NRL would prefer not to play Origin I in an empty MCG but it would still consider the option.
“It’s not ruled out but this is State of Origin,” he said.
“It’s a pretty special occasion and clearly playing in front of a crowd — some crowd — is definitely a factor, yes.
“I don’t think the Victorian government or Visit Victoria would want us to play in front of an empty stadium. The whole point of us taking State of Origin there (Melbourne) is ideally you want to be playing in front of 80, 90,000 people.
“So that’s not ideal but we haven’t yet made that decision.”
Abdo said the SCG and Brisbane’s Lang Park remained potential venues to host Origin I.
“We’re looking at about every state and territory and also considering Queensland and New South Wales as options as well,” he said.
“It’s a very unusual situation, it’s very complex so we need to consider everything very carefully.”
Abdo said he hoped a decision on the venue for Origin I would be made by early next week.