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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.
— Basil Zoccali (@BasilZoccali) October 3, 2021
Pretty atrocious to allow the Australian national anthem to cut off Jonathan Thurston’s acknowledgement of country at the #NRLGF
— Max Walden (@maxwalden_) October 3, 2021
— Gareth Kidd (@garethvk) October 3, 2021
Nice one nrl national anthem before acknowledgement of country had finish. #NRLGF
— Aaron Amery (@AaronAmery) October 3, 2021
— James Atkinson (@JamesAt22685665) October 3, 2021
Bloody NRL, playing off Jonathon Thurston during the acknowledgement🤦🏽♂️😂 #NRLGF
— James Blackwell (he/him) (@BlackwellJ_) October 3, 2021
Wow, JT gets cut off in the welcome to country. Good job NRL, time to fix yourselves. #NRLGF
— Brooke Jensen (@TheAlphaBrooke) October 3, 2021
The Australian Anthem just cut into Jonathan Thurston's Welcome to Country
Thurston's a legend and beautiful words - best Grand Final of the last 10 years was his one - hope that never happens again
— Glen Falkenstein (@GlenFalkenstein) October 3, 2021
#NRLGF the idiots started singing the anthem before Thurston was finished the acknowledgement of country.
— Nooberstiez (@Oofer02815811) October 3, 2021
Maybe no one will notice that someone pressed the button to play the anthem before Jonathan Thurston had finished the Welcome to Country… We noticed. #NRLGF
— Jacquie Sproal (@sproalj) October 3, 2021
— Dropdeadfred (@maka_freddie) October 3, 2021
That was absolutely disgraceful playing off the Welcome To Country like that #NRLGF
— Lance Masina (@lancedmasina) October 3, 2021
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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