Banned: Blues stars turned away from Origin decider
Channel 9 and the NRL are desperately trying to secure an exemption from the Queensland Government to fly commentators and big wigs into Brisbane for Wednesday's State of Origin decider.
News Corp can reveal the Suncorp Stadium showdown faces being Maroon-washed, with Sydney-based commentators currently banned from entering Queensland.
Desperate to have a Blues presence in the broadcast, Channel 9 is hoping to put the likes of Phil Gould, Andrew Johns and host Karl Stefanovic on a private jet to Brisbane to bypass Queensland's strict border closure.
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Queensland Health refused to comment on Channel 9's moves for an exemption, citing confidentiality reasons.
"Queensland Health agreed to a plan presented by the NRL that enables the 2020 State of Origin series to proceed while mitigating the risk of COVID-19," a spokeswoman said.
The NRL's current travel exemption does not apply to broadcasters or staff that are not part of the State of Origin "bubble", which is required to adhere to strict biosecurity protocols.
That means they must secure another exemption from Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young to have any sort of NSW presence in the broadcast.
A Channel 9 spokesman said the network was still finalising plans and could not provide any further detail.
The NRL is hoping to have some senior staff secure an exemption so they can attend the series-deciding contest which will be played in front of 39,000 fans.
The Origin shield is traditionally presented to the winning team after the third game by the NRL's senior management.
As part of the plan, all Sydneysiders would return to NSW immediately after the game via private jet to minimise their contact with the Queensland community.
But Dr Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk face being accused of hypocrisy if they allow television and NRL figures into the state given Queensland's strict border policy.
The government has been under immense pressure to open Queensland's borders in recent months given the low community transmission figures of COVID-19 in NSW.
Palaszczuk has insisted Queensland's border policy will not be reviewed until the end of the month.
The bulk of the NRL and Channel 9's figures live in the greater Sydney region, which is still regarded as a COVID "hot spot" by the Queensland Government.
Channel 9's broadcast of the second Origin game at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday night had little Queensland influence.
Given the border closure, any talent travelling to Sydney would not have been allowed to return to Queensland without entering 14-day hotel quarantine.
Maroons legends Darren Lockyer, Paul Vautin and Johnathan Thurston appeared on the broadcast from a Brisbane studio.
Melbourne-based former Maroons fullback Billy Slater was part of the commentary team.
Originally published as Banned: Blues stars turned away from Origin decider