The NRL will pay tribute to 27 retiring and departing players – for the first time including female stars - during the build-up to the NRL Telstra Premiership 2020 Grand Final on Sunday.
Premiership winners, members of the 300 Club and Test and Origin stars are included in this year’s class of Retiring and Departing Players.
Players to be honoured in a tribute at the ground on Sunday include Mitchell Aubusson (Sydney Roosters), Joel Thompson (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers), Ethan Lowe (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tim Grant, Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), David Gower (Parramatta Eels), Tim Glasby (Newcastle Knights), Cameron King, Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Jamie Buhrer (Newcastle Knights) as well as Ruan Sims (Sydney Roosters).
Also acknowledged as part of the tribute will be Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos), Adam Blair, Gerard Beale (Warriors), James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ben Matulino (Wests Tigers), Shannon Boyd (Gold Coast Titans), Aidan Guerra (Newcastle Knights), Gavin Cooper, Scott Bolton (North Queensland Cowboys), along with Lorina Papali’i, Sarina Clark (Warriors), Lavina O’Mealey, Rebecca Young (Sydney Roosters) and Heather Ballinger (Brisbane Broncos).
“The retiring and departing players ceremony is always one of the most emotive moments of our Grand Finals Day. It will look different this year because of our biosecurity protocols, but we will still be able to pay tribute to the players in a special way.,’’ NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“To be a regular NRL player for a number of seasons takes a great deal of talent and hard work, these are champions of our game who have given their heart and soul to their clubs and their representative teams over a long period of time.”
Mr Abdo said it was fitting female athletes would be honoured for the first time.
“It is very special for us to acknowledge our female athletes who are leaving our game for the first time. We have established a set of criteria to ensure the game’s elite retiring and departing women are acknowledged. As the NRLW continues to grow, this will make our annual tribute even more special.”
The biggest post COVID crowd in Australia will attend the NRL Telstra Premiership 2020 Grand Finals Day, with the match now officially sold out.
A crowd of close to 40,000 will descend on ANZ Stadium for the NRL Grand Final between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm and the NRLW Grand Final between the Brisbane Broncos and the Sydney Roosters.
Fans are encouraged to consider all the available travel options ahead of time as public transport continues to operate at a reduced capacity to maintain physical distancing across the network.
If catching public transport, fans are encouraged to plan ahead, aim to arrive early and allow plenty of extra travel time getting to and from Olympic Park.
Express trains to Olympic Park will leave Central and Penrith regularly from around 2pm, with return services running from full-time until late.
Sydney Olympic Park Major Event buses will also be running on all routes with services starting from 2pm, depending on the route, and return services running from full-time.
Wearing a face mask while travelling on public transport is strongly recommended and fans are strongly encouraged to keep their face masks on until they reach their seats inside the stadium.
After the game, fans are encouraged to watch the post-match presentation, with food and beverage outlets remaining open to reduce crowd numbers outside the venue.
Additional measures and staff will be in place around transport hubs and ANZ Stadium to safely manage crowds arriving and leaving the game. Fans should practise physical distancing while in queues and follow the directions of staff on site.
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats inside ANZ Stadium before 6.30pm to see the pre-game entertainment headlined by multi-platinum, multi-ARIA award-winning artist Amy Shark.
For the first time, an NRL Grand Final will feature technology which will allow the posts to be lit up after tries and goals.
The NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final 2020 is supported by the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.
NRL Telstra Premiership 2020 Grand Final
- 3:15pm Gates open
- 4:05pm NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership Grand Final
- 6:30pm Retiring and departing players class of 2020 tributed on field, followed by a pre-match show featuring an exclusive performance from Amy Shark.
- 7:30pm NRL Telstra Premiership 2020 Grand Final