The NRL grand final will return to Sydney in 2022, a sigh of relief for NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet after it was revealed Brisbane was the serious favourite until the eleventh hour.
Though the rugby league showpiece will be played at Accor Park this year, the venue will once again be decided during next season as Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys declared Brisbane had all but been locked in as the host this year but for last minute negotiations with the NSW government.
V'landys openly said the Queensland government's bid was more favourable for the NRL financially compared the that of NSW, before a final round of negotiations prior to last night's ARLC meeting swung the decision in their favour.
The rugby league boss had delighted in catching assembled media off-guard at the beginning of the press conference by briefly joking that the decider would be held in Melbourne this year, before revealing Sydney was the venue.
“We wanted to give it to a city that needs a major football event. And that’s why we’ve gone with Melbourne," he cracked.
“Just kidding — greetings Gil (AFL boss Gillon McLachlan) if you're watching.”
Despite the light-hearted start to the announcement, it quickly became apparent that V'landys displeasure at the NSW government's backdown from a promised $800m suburban grounds revitalisation project was yet to be fully addressed.
Of particular frustration was the inference from the state government that the ARLC's push for the fund was obstructing efforts to aid flood victims throughout NSW.
Sydney would have held the rights to the NRL grand final until 2042 had the agreement, which was struck back in 2018, been put into effect.
"It is really now put on the table for the future," V'landys said.
"It hasn't been because we were hoping we would have an exclusive arrangement with the New South Wales government.
"Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. It opens the door for a Super Bowl type concept or, who can give us the best deal for the game."
NRL boss Peter V'landys says the NSW Government has given the NRL an additional investment for a year and so he's sticking with Sydney for the Grand Final. NSW finalised the offer today... number is commercial in confidence. #nswpol
— Isobel Roe (@isobelroe) August 18, 2022
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) August 18, 2022
NRL final to stay in Sydney but the bad blood persists. ARL Comission Chairman Peter V’landys says NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is “a very good premier, but don’t make a bet with him because if you win he won’t pay you.” @NRL @abcnews
— Ruby Cornish (@rubycornish) August 18, 2022
— Darren Mara (@DazzMara) August 18, 2022
Comedy is tragedy plus time so I assume this will be funny in about 2038. https://t.co/qOl8KhRYw4
— Ben Quagliata (@bensquag) August 18, 2022
NSW Premier clashes with Karl Stefanovic over NRL grand final
In an interview on Channel 9's Today prior to the announcement, Stefanovic needled Perrotet over the potential loss of the NRL decider to fierce rivals Queensland.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted her support for the NRL grand final's return to Brisbane on Wednesday, and Stefanovic couldn't help but poke the bear with her NSW counterpart.
“Looks like you're going to be the NSW Premier who lost the grand final to Queensland. I mean how embarrassing Premier,” he quipped, but as the interview wore on it was clear Perrottet's patience was wearing somewhat thin.
Though he initially defending Sydney's longstanding record of hosting the grand final and his confidence that the NRL would retain a marquee event for the state, Stefanovic's subsequent suggestion that he was 'resigned to losing it' elicited a more pointed response.
“You lose the grand final, you've lost everything," Stefanovic said.
“What events are in NSW?”
In response, Perrotet curtly told the Today host exactly what he thought.
“Well Karl, I know you're from Queensland. If you think Queensland is so great, you can go back and live there,” he said.
The exchange comes amid a series of controversies besetting the NSW government, chiefly the inquiry into the manner in which former deputy premier John Barilaro came to be offered a $500k taxpayer funded role in New York shortly after his retirement from politics.
“I might just have to do that,” Stefanovic replied.
“You are having an absolute Barry Crocker at the moment, you and your government.”
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