The NRL have announced Melbourne will host the 2021 State of Origin Series opener, with representative football set to return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 9.
Suncorp Stadium will host the second game of the 2021 series, scheduled for Sunday, June 27 while the series decider will be held at Stadium Australia on Wednesday, July 14.
Speaking to NRL.com, NRL boss Andrew Abdo echoed the league's excitement to have State of Origin return to Victoria.
“We’re excited to be taking Australia’s biggest sporting brand to Melbourne for the 10th time,’’ he said.
“The last year has been incredibly challenging for Victorians with the extended lockdowns and challenges. We’re delighted to be bringing Ampol State of Origin back to the city. It will give fans an exceptional live sports experience, and bring interstate visitors back to the hotels and restaurants.”
Newly-appointed Maroons coach Paul Green stated his desire to begin his Queensland tenure with a promising start in Melbourne before returning home to Suncorp Stadium.
“We’re really looking forward to getting down there and putting in a performance that all Maroons fans can be proud of,” Green said.
“Victorians have been through a challenging period and while we now live in uncertain times, we know how much they love their sport and an Origin match at the MCG is a fantastic way to showcase our game.
“We also know how much Origin means to the people of Queensland, so it will be great to get back to Suncorp Stadium for Game Two with a really good performance under our belts.”
Melbourne holds a special bond with NSW coach Brad Fittler, who is excited about the trip south.
“I have always been supportive of taking Origin to other markets outside of Sydney and Brisbane and I have particularly good memories of my first game in Melbourne as the Blues coach in 2018," Fittler said.
“In saying that we really need our fans to get on board for Melbourne too. We really missed not having the support of our large Blatchys Blues fan base in the final game in Brisbane last year because of COVID restrictions.
“We have plenty of Blatchys seats available and would love to see our current fans and new fans proudly wearing the blue wig.”
The Blues will be looking to return to their winning ways this year following a dramatic series defeat to an undermanned Queensland outfit in 2020.
NSW have won four of the five previous matches at the MCG and will be hoping to add a 16th series to their record and close the gap on the Maroons' 21 shields.