Legends blast NRL’s greedy cash grab
IT'S not even NRL season anymore but rugby league's governing body is still copping plenty of heat following the announcement the grand final will remain in Sydney until 2046.
This comes despite ANZ Stadium being renovated to be a rectangular venue and Allianz Stadium being rebuilt.
In the next two seasons the game's showpiece event will be played at the SCG, despite criticisms around the atmosphere and fan experience.
After infuriating the Queensland Government by not sending the game to Suncorp Stadium, arguably the best ground in the game, and the NSW Government after squeezing another $10 million to play the grand final at the SCG, it appears no one is happy.
2GB Radio reported on Wednesday that the $10 million deal has caused the government to "blow up", with host Ben Fordham reporting one NSW member of parliament had accused the NRL of being "greedy bastards".
Speaking at the announcement, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said he agreed the SCG wasn't the best venue for rugby league watching but it was an investment in the future, even though he also admitted the stadium development wasn't contingent on the grand final staying in NSW.
But he said the NRL had stayed loyal to a state that was "spending effectively $2 billion of infrastructure development".
Although Queensland fans have the Magic Round - one round where all games are played at Suncorp Stadium - and All-Stars, it's too little for some legends, especially considering the Brisbane Broncos have the biggest membership base in the competition.
Rugby league legend Wally Lewis told Macquarie Sports Radio that the NRL's argument around money didn't hold muster.
"I'm very disappointed, and I think most people up here in Queensland certainly would have loved the opportunity to get just one chance to host a grand final," he told Macquarie Sports Radio.
"Obviously there has been the explanation that it's all about money … if it was all about money, why wouldn't they go to the MCG and play it there?
"You would get many more people than they can fit into the SCG, and it is rich with rugby league talent down there with the Melbourne Storm. To spread the game a bit wider than what it has been, it would have been a golden opportunity."
Lewis said it would be costly for fans as well as they would have to buy "a pair of binoculars ... because you'll be watching the game from a long way away".
Former NSW State of Origin and Brisbane Broncos legend Glenn Lazarus said it just showed how much the NRL was out of touch.
"The thing that really frustrates me is every time I hear a decision that's been made by the NRL, it's just not the right one," he said on Macquarie Sports Radio.
"It's a reflection of how the game is being run at the highest level, I've got to say.
"Giving Queensland a grand final, a game at Suncorp Stadium was the right thing to do, but Todd Greenberg and the NRL decided to keep it in Sydney and not give Queensland a thank you or a token of their appreciation for the wonderful support they give not only the Broncos but also the NRL in general.
"I mean they have a State of Origin here and it's sold out, they have Test matches here with massive crowds, it's just the right thing to do. Unfortunately money talks and I'm disappointed in Todd Greenberg and the NRL and I'm very disappointed for the Queensland public."
Lazarus said it could have helped the Queensland economy as a one-off.
He did admit, however, that he was a traditionalist, and said every semi-final should be played in Sydney but the NRL had blown an opportunity for a one-off shift.
He warned it was the type of frustration that could make fans turn away from rugby league.
"Can you imagine the brownie points the NRL would have got if they said 'we're getting our new stadiums set up for the future but in the meantime, the best rugby league stadium in the world is Suncorp Stadium, let's put the grand final on there?"' Lazarus said.
"That's the right decision, that's the right thing to do, but unfortunately we didn't see that and once again the NRL are left with some mud on their faces and people are very disappointed in them."