'Atrocious': NRL slammed after 'appalling' grand final blunder

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·Sports Reporter
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NRL legend Johnathan Thurston (pictured) performing the Welcome to Country at Suncorp stadium.
NRL legend Johnathan Thurston (pictured) was cut off during his Welcome to Country at Suncorp for the Australian National Anthem. (Image: Channel 9)

The NRL has been slammed after the Welcome to Country pre-game address from rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston appeared to be cut off to make way for the National Anthem.

As the Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs lined-up ahead of the grand final kick-off, NRL legend Thurston took to Suncorp Stadium for the traditional Welcome to Country.

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In a historic moment for Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, hosting their first NRL grand final, Thurston welcomed the NRL community to the Yuggera Country and acknowledged the Traditional Custodians of the land.

However, as Thurston was coming to the end of his welcome, the Australian National Anthem started to play.

Thurston was clearly taken aback as he looked startled as the music echoed around the stadium.

The anthem continued to play as Thurston finished.

The abrupt start also appeared to take Australian singer Kate Miller-Heidke, who performed a sensational version of the national anthem, by surprise.

Fans took to social media to absolutely slam the NRL for the 'appalling' blunder during the biggest game of the season.

Penrith Panthers win NRL grand final

The Panthers went on to wuin an enthralling NRL grand final against the Rabbitohs after an intercept try from winger Stephen Crichton made amends for last year's grand final heartbreak and ended coach Ivan Cleary's long wait for a title.

It was only Bennett's second loss in his 10th grand final as a coach, his appearances now stretching across five decades with four different clubs.

Penrith's third title was a breakthrough for Bennett's Penrith counterpart Cleary in his 370th game as a coach, becoming the only man to win one for the first time after their 250th game.

The Panthers' victory comes after a 17-game winning streak was brutally snapped by Melbourne in last year's grand final, the Storm romping to a 22-0 halftime lead in that boil-over.

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