NRL 2022: QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher says game would waste chance to grow if grand final not shared

Facing a potential 20-year shut out from the NRL’s biggest game, QRL boss Bruce Hatcher has oulined a controversial strategy to guarantee grand finals are played in Queensland.

Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher believes one in three grand finals should be played away from Sydney, urging power brokers to stop looking “inward.’’

The odds are shortening that Brisbane, host of last year’s decider between Penrith and Souths, could face a 20-year shut out of the grand final, which is likely to be anchored in Sydney in a newly minted deal.

Hatcher believes such a call would be “too inward looking for the game’s best interests’’ and rugby league needs to seize on the chance to sell itself around the nation.

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Suncorp Stadium was the venue for Penrith’s grand final win in 2021.
Suncorp Stadium was the venue for Penrith’s grand final win in 2021.

ARL commission chairman Peter V’landys claimed the grand final will be shared around unless the NSW government finances the upgrading of suburban stadiums.

But despite a fiery exchange with the government, it appears the NRL will get what it wants, so Sydney could retain hosting rights for the next two decades.

The NSW government secured hosting rights for for the grand final until 2042 on the proviso it redeveloped Stadium Australia, but a backflip on that promise temporarily left the door open for a fresh plan.

Hatcher believes the grand final should be on the move no matter what the outcome of the latest discussions.

“I would be looking at shifting it every three years,’’ Hatcher told News Corp.

“I don’t see why it should be a purely NSW thing. It is a national rugby league competition. And by that I don’t mean just to Queensland.

Bruce Hatcher has called for the decider to be shared around.
Bruce Hatcher has called for the decider to be shared around.

“It’s arrogant to think it has to be in Sydney every year. Perth gets a good State of Origin crowd and Queensland should be favourites because of the players it produces.’’

The Queensland government reportedly offered around $10 million to host the decider though local league fans are not getting their hopes up, fearing the main result of Queensland’s bid could be to allow southern league officials to extract a better deal from the NSW government.

Hatcher believes Queensland’s bid should be given the respect it deserves, particularly after Suncorp Stadium successfully hosted last year’s decider.

“If they are genuinely talking about spreading the gospel, it should go to other venues as well and get people to watch the top level of the game.

“I really think Queensland should be going for it. If you are going to be a serious international city – and that is what Queensland is – you have to go for the arts and sports events whenever you can.

“You fill hotels and get people into restaurants. It’s really appropriate. We have had the floods and Covid and we have some semblance of reality coming up. We should proudly have a go at it and trying to stimulate tourism.

Peter V'landys had a showdown with the NSW Government.
Peter V'landys had a showdown with the NSW Government.

“Melbourne built its reputation about attracting events and they were unashamedly parochial about it.

“There is always a chance. If you read between the lines, there is a bit of leveraging going on. We would host it well just as we did last year. Last year’s grand final was a good one.’’

Queensland will showcase its ability to host major events when the popular Magic Round featuring all 16 teams returns to Suncorp Stadium next week.-

Originally published as NRL 2022: QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher says game would waste chance to grow if grand final not shared

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