Ivan Cleary and Wayne Bennett will face-off in a joint press conference tomorrow afternoon, just 48 hours out from the Grand Final.
The two veteran coaches opened a war of words in the opening week of the Finals over ‘blockers’ and conversations with the NRL, but have remain tight-lipped for most of the week, keen to avoid a round two.
Cleary and Bennett will be joined by Penrith co-captains Isaah Yeo and Nathan Cleary and Rabbitohs skipper Adam Reynolds, along with Cody Walker.
The press conference is the final time the coaches will front the media before Sunday night’s decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Meantime, both Grand Final teams are scheduled to appear at the NRL Fan Fest at King George Square in Brisbane tomorrow afternoon.
The Fan Fest runs from 10am until 8pm with the teams to appear at 1pm.
Meanwhile, the NRL is nervously awaiting tomorrow’s COVID-19 case numbers in Queensland with fears that Brisbane could enter a snap lockdown.
The game has already had its capacity reduced to 75 per cent, or 39,000, and it would be a disaster if the Grand Final was to be played without crowds.
The NRL is understood to be considering a range of scenarios but feels tomorrow is D-Day as far as the match going ahead is concerned.
The NRL’s Plan B of playing the match in Townsville was complicated today when a case was reported in the area, with restrictions implemented in the city.
If Brisbane does enter a lockdown, there’s three solutions: postpone the game in the hope the lockdown is short, play without crowds or potentially move the match to Sydney in the coming weeks.
Earlier today, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said he was confident the game would go ahead as scheduled.
“We’ve got a great partnership with the Queensland Government and I’d like to acknowledge the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young for the way they have managed the pandemic and worked with us to ensure the continuity of the competition whilst keeping the community safe,’’ he said.
“Suncorp Stadium is one of the best venues in the world and with 39,000 passionate fans at the stadium, I’ve got no doubt there will be a great atmosphere on Sunday night.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.