Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher’s suggestion Brisbane should not be allowed to host Saturday’s preliminary final has been shot down as “outragerous” amid the backdrop of the AFL’s concerted push into the city.
Fletcher caused a stir on the weekend by calling for the NRL to shift all preliminary finals to a neutral venue, suggesting the Broncos were gaining an unfair advantage.
Brisbane will host the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday while the Panthers have moved Friday’s clash with Melbourne to Sydney’s Accor Stadium because their 22,500-capacity BlueBet Stadium home ground does not meet the NRL’s preliminary final capacity requirements.
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A capacity crowd of around 52,000 will witness the Broncos’ bid to reach the grand final and veteran Daily Telegraph reporter Phil Rothfield said Fletcher’s comments did not take into account the threat of the AFL’s “fight” to win over fans in Queensland.
Brisbane will also play host to the Lions’ AFL preliminary final against Carlton on Saturday.
“What’s the go with Brian Fletcher? I like Fletch but the situation with this story is, the Brisbane Lions are playing Carlton in Brisbane on Saturday afternoon,” Rothfield said on NRL 360 on Monday.
“Poor old Fletch wants rugby league to leave town and go down to the Gold Coast to stop the Broncos getting a home ground advantage? I’ve never heard anything more outrageous in my life.
“Rugby league is now a stronghold in Brisbane. We rebuilt there with the Dolphins, being there in Covid. The Broncos finished second and deserve the home ground.
“It’s the best rugby league stadium in the world and Fletch wants to move it? Here you are AFL, you can have the city…”
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NRL 360 host Braith Anasta agreed Fletcher “got that one wrong” while reporter Broncos legend Gorden Tallis said this weekend would be a deserved celebration of rugby league.
“There’s three different states in the finals and two different countries,” Tallis said. “It can’t get better.
“Queensland fans have been so loyal to rugby league they deserve that game. If it’s a 20,000-seat stadium it’s a different story …. go to a bigger stadium because we’re turning away fans.
“But 52,500 will turn up (at Suncorp) and it will be rocking.”