Stadium capacity boost for Origin opener

·2-min read

More than 2000 seats will be added to Queensland Country Bank Stadium and direct flights will return between Sydney and Townsville for the State of Origin series opener.

The NRL's decision to move Game I to North Queensland has caused a logistical hurdle for fans.

Organisers will use 10 B-double trucks from Brisbane to allow for extra seating, with the northern end of the stadium designed to be used for temporary grandstands.

That will take the capacity to 27,327, with the minimal nine days of notice stopping the figure from going above 30,000.

But getting the fans to the city could be the trickiest part.

Tickets were not due to go on sale until Wednesday, but by Tuesday afternoon booking sites were showing 98 per cent of hotels as full.

Other websites also showed the nearest available accommodation to be at Magnetic Island or more than an hour's drive from the city.

Townsville routinely sells out hotels for big North Queensland home games given how many people travel from nearby areas, however this is easily the biggest match held in the city.

"We understand this event will put our city at capacity," Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-Smith said.

"However we are leaving no stone unturned and exploring all options to ensure we can cater for all attendees."

Flights have also become a challenge.

Virgin Australia have reintroduced direct flights between Sydney and Townsville on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the first time since they were stopped during COVID-19.

But there is only one per day, making Thursday in particular a logistical challenge for those looking to fly back to NSW.

Qantas are yet to add extra flights, with the North Queensland Cowboys already occupying around 30 seats on the Thursday flight from Townsville to Sydney.

On the field, NSW refuse to buy into any perceived unfairness of having to play the opening two games of the series in Queensland.

Not since the first three-game series 1982 has one state hosted the opening two clashes.

The Maroons were also the last team to host two games in one series in 2017, before the NRL moved to one neutral venue per year.

"It was only a few years ago where one team would have two home games, so it's not that different at the end of the day," halfback Nathan Cleary said.

"You've just got to perform.

"It's a good challenge for us, we'll just have to play well to win those games."

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