CAN the North Queensland Cowboys complete the greatest fairy tale in NRL history? The team that needed other results to go their way just to make the Top 8 will play title favourites Melbourne Storm in the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final at Sydney’s Stadium Australia on Sunday.
The Cowboys have become one of the great sporting stories by defying the odds to win their way on to the biggest stage in the NRL with three back-to-back elimination final wins . . . and all without their two biggest stars, the legendary Johnathan Thurston and Test prop Matt Scott.
While the Cowboys will be underdogs again in the decider, they will be the sentimental favourites and will have a cavalcade of support in a capacity crowd keen to witness a Grand Final for the ages. No team has ever won the NRL title from eighth spot – and the Cowboys will need to beat one of the finest teams in NRL history to complete the fairy tale.
The Melbourne Storm will be farewelling champion halfback Cooper Cronk after the Grand Final and it may well be the last time rugby league fans get to see the Big 3 – Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – in action together.
NRL Grand Final Day will also feature a game that will potentially stop a nation – with the Papua New Guinea Hunters having qualified for their first State Championship. Cheered on by millions of fanatical rugby league fans back home in PNG, the Hunters will play Penrith Panthers in the curtain-raiser to the NRL Grand Final.
Earlier in the day, the Holden Cup Grand Final will feature an all-Sydney affair between Parramatta Eels and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, the latter who have also charged in to the Grand Final from eighth spot.
A capacity crowd of 80,000-plus is expected.
FANS URGED TO ENJOY A SPECIAL DAY ON THE SPORTING CALENDAR
Stadium Australia CEO Daryl Kerry said the Sydney Olympic Park precinct would be alive with NRL fan activities and pre-game entertainment and he urged fans to head out early and enjoy the day.
Pre-game activities will kick off outside Stadium Australia from 11am with Gates Open at 1.15pm.
“Sunday promises to be one of the great NRL Grand Finals and the Bureau is forecasting a beautiful spring day in Sydney. The best advice is to give yourself plenty of time and arrive early in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct so that you can relax with family and friends and make the most of a special day,” Mr Kerry said.
“Tens of thousands of regional and interstate visitors are heading to the city to join with Sydneysiders in witnessing a historic Grand Final.”
All tickets to the NRL Grand Final include return travel on Sydney Trains and Major Event Buses, with fans encouraged to take advantage of the public transport, arrive early and enjoy the pre-game festivities.
Direct train services from Central to Olympic Park will run every 7 minutes from noon, stopping at Redfern and Strathfield. For fans coming from the west, express services will run from Blacktown every 10 minutes and from Penrith and Parramatta every 30 minutes.
Sydney Olympic Park Major Event Buses begin running from 11:50am and 12.30pm depending on the route.
Fans are reminded to keep their tickets for the return journey, as customers must have a valid ticket when travelling on public transport.
Fans are also reminded that Daylight Saving begins in NSW on Sunday when clocks go forward one hour at 2am.
NRL GRAND FINAL CELEBRATIONS
NRL Grand Final celebrations will begin in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct outside Stadium Australia at 11am, with an NRL Fan Zone offering merchandise, family-friendly activities and live entertainment. Restaurants, cafes and bars will open for extended hours pre and post-game.
Fans should be in their seats inside Stadium Australia before 6.30pm to see the electrifying pre-game entertainment headlined by American rap superstar Macklemore, who will be joined by Eric Nally and Mary Lambert to sing Downtown and Same Love, among other huge hits.
STADIUM AND PRECINCT SECURITY
A high NSW Police and security presence will be in place for Sunday’s NRL Grand Final.
Fans are asked to leave additional time for the security screening process when entering the Stadium. This process will include mandatory bag searches and personal checks.
Only small bags (no larger than 30cm x 40cm) are permitted into Stadium Australia for events, and all bags will be checked by security. Fans should arrive without bags if possible.
2017 NRL TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP GRAND FINAL SYDNEY SCHEDULE
- 1:15pm – Gates Open;
- 1:35pm – 2017 Holden Cup Grand Final: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels;
- 3:40pm – 2017 State Championship: PNG Hunters v Penrith Panthers;
- 6:30pm – Entertainment commences inside Stadium Australia;
- 7:15pm – 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final Sydney: Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys.