Sunday Test provides rare opportunity
It was a call no one wanted to make but NRL head of football Todd Greenberg has urged Brisbane footy fans to take advantage of a rare daytime Test match and fill Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
As a massive storm cell smashed south-east Queensland on Friday afternoon chaotic scenes saw road closures, major disruptions to public transport and fans stranded at train stations with both the men's and women's Tests eventually postponed.
For the first time in four years the Kangaroos will now play a Test in daylight hours and with the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns to play the curtain-raiser it promises to provide a wonderful showcase for international rugby league.
The Brisbane Broncos have not yet played a daytime Telstra Premiership game in season 2015 and with a wait until Round 19 before they get their first – against the Wests Tigers – it's an opportunity Greenberg hopes Queensland's footy fans take.
"There's that great saying that through adversity comes opportunity so while we were dealing with some adversity on Friday night, there's a significant opportunity for us with a Sunday afternoon game in Brisbane which doesn't happen often," Greenberg said.
"Queensland rugby league fans and Brisbane rugby league fans can come out in force tomorrow afternoon and watch two great games of footy, with the Jillaroos against the Kiwi Ferns and then the Kangaroos versus the Kiwis.
"They're two great games on a sunny Sunday afternoon and I really hope the Brisbane rugby league public get behind it and support it."
At 6pm on Friday night large parts of the Suncorp Stadium playing surface were covered with water but in addition to the safety of the players, Greenberg said the safety of fans and staff coming to the game was also a major consideration.
"It was a big decision that has lots of resultant impacts but the fundamental priority was always the safety of the players and the fans' safety and the opportunity for them to come to the Test match," he said.
"If we could have played the game and the players would have been safe we would have gone ahead as planned but we had to have those two objectives in our mind about player safety and also that of the fans.
"There will be financial implications for us out of this but all of those fall in behind the objectives of the fans and the players."
After Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gave a press conference mid-afternoon urging residents of south-east Queensland to stay at home and as the severity of the storm became apparent, Greenberg said a meeting was convened of the major stakeholders to discuss possible contingencies.
"At about 5 o'clock we had some concerns," Greenberg said. "Our primary objective was to always play the game as it was scheduled but the weather continued to get worse, the weather patterns from the bureau continued to look worse so we quickly scheduled a meeting of a range of different stakeholders.
"We led a discussion around what the impacts would be if we were to make a change and what we landed on was some very quick changes that influenced some other people.
"When we made the change we knew we had to change the kick-off time for City-Country so we made some calls to the CRL and the New South Wales Rugby League who were both very supportive and understanding.
"We then had to ring the four clubs playing next Friday night because we wanted them to know before it became public so they had some awareness that their players would have two days less in their recovery.
"It's a significant shift for the stadium, they had to reengineer staffing rosters and catering, work with government and transport and police to change everything to Sunday."