Queensland lock Corey Parker is confident Suncorp Stadium will sell out for next week’s State of Origin I despite a ticket price hike.
Despite a dramatic ticket price hike, Queensland lock Corey Parker believes there is “no question” Suncorp Stadium will sell out for the historic State of Origin series opener next week.
Still, Maroons captain Cameron Smith on Tuesday sounded very much like a man spruiking the game as rugby league administrators sweated on almost 8000 general admission tickets selling before next week’s Origin I.
Queensland legend Wally Lewis joined Maroons coach Mal Meninga in slamming ticket prices which dramatically rose in 2014, with some categories almost doubling.
It raised the “embarrassing” prospect of empty seats at the May 28 series opener which will mark Origin game No.100 and honour the late Arthur Beetson by retiring the Queensland No.11 jersey for the night.
But Parker believed eight-time reigning series champions Queensland would run out against NSW in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium, which boasted a 52,500 capacity.
“It will be a full house, mate. No question Suncorp Stadium will be full,” he said.
Smith still did his best to push the importance of the match.
“You’d want to say in 20 years’ time I was there for the 100th game, I saw that champion (Queensland) team play’,” he said.
“That’s what the game is about, passing on to your grandkids, saying `I saw Greg Inglis and Billy Slater play’ – those blokes are greats of the game.
“I would like to think that everyone could get out there and we have a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.”
The cheapest general admission tickets worth $80 have sold out leaving gold ($250) and silver ($220) as the only categories available.
Brisbane Origin games usually sell out in hours but sluggish sales have forced the Queensland Rugby League to ask the National Rugby League to help market the series opener.
Last week, the ARL Commission and the QRL were forced to release a limited number of silver category seats for $125.
Rugby league Immortal and ex-Maroons skipper Lewis said ticket prices had put Origin matches beyond the reach of many fans.
“A lot of them can’t afford to go along to the game,” Lewis told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“It’s really quite an embarrassing moment for the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) because, if you try and put a finger on the last time a State of Origin game was unable to be sold, you’re going back 25 years, minimum.”
Meninga had said he hoped the QRL would learn from its mistake.
“I guess the league has to make some tough decisions and say they’re sorry, admit they are wrong and make them more available to our core supporters – the blue-collar workers, the mums and dads who love the game so much and want to come to Origin,” he said.
“We learn our lessons and hopefully we are strong enough to say we were wrong and make it a bit more accessible to our audience for game one and three (in Brisbane).”