South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas has taken a swipe at the NRL, following the news of AFL’s version of Magic Round heading to the state 2023.
After months of speculation, Gillon McLachlan announced a 24th round would take place next year, with nine matches to be held across four days in Adelaide and its surrounds.
It’s a huge boost for SA, with the AFL taking inspiration from the rugby league’s Magic Round becoming a huge success in recent seasons.
But that didn’t stop Malinauskas from taking a few cheeky digs at the NRL and Sydney, pointing to the lack of attendance at games compared to sporting events in Adelaide.
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“I’m not too sure if I should be magnanimous – we welcome the competition, but obviously the best team won,” he said.
“We wanted to be first – we didn’t want anybody’s sloppy seconds, particularly Sydney’s. Now that we’ve go the event, we will put on the best show that we can and hopefully that sets us up for the future.
“[The crowds will be] bigger than Sydney’s. We get more people to the cricket here for a Test match with our population, in comparison to Sydney with their hoards.
“Footy is no different – turn on the NRL on most weekends and it looks like a SANFL game.
“We are going to get far bigger crowds here and that’s something we are proud of and worth backing in.”
Adelaide and Port Adelaide continue to garner strong crowds to their home games, while NRL attendances have struggled despite all COVID restrictions being lifted.
Malinauskas is hoping if SA can put on a show for the inaugural event, the AFL will return to the state in the future.
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“South Australians show up – our record in terms of people participating and attending events punches well above its weight,” he said.
“The AFL can have complete confidence that a unique offering like this, for the first time in the history of the game, will be celebrated and attended by South Australians.
“I’m not objective – but one of the best things in the world is being able to stand here on this patch of earth and have a beer with friends and watch the footy. I suspect this will be chock-a-block.
“I hope that South Australia puts on such a good show for the 24th round, that makes it almost impossible for the AFL to not want to continue the 24th round into the future and South Australia will always being considered a leading contender to get it.
“I have complete confidence that we will be able to achieve that objective.”