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State of Origin heads west with Perth deal

Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) has confirmed that Perth will host a State of Origin series game for the first time in 2019.

The city’s 60,000-capacity Perth Stadium, which is currently under construction, will stage the second game of the 2019 series, which pits representative state sides from New South Wales and Queensland against each other.

A State of Origin game has only ever been played outside of Australia’s eastern states once before – when Los Angeles in the US staged an exhibition match in 1987.

“We saw Melbourne embrace State of Origin in 2015 and we expect Perth to do the same in 2019,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said. “By then Perth will have a state-of-the-art facility which will be a fitting new venue for the biggest sporting event in the country.

"Taking Origin to new venues has huge benefits for the game. It grows the game in other markets and showcases our premium product to a new audience.”

The announcement marks another coup for Perth, with the city also set to stage its first-ever rugby league Test match on October 15 when Australia takes on New Zealand at nib Stadium.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said: “Arguably Australia's biggest sporting rivalry is that between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons during the State of Origin series.

“We are expecting thousands of fans to make the trip across the Nullarbor to be at the game and millions more will watch the live television broadcast which gives us the opportunity to show off our transforming city and world-class new stadium to the rest of Australia.”

The third and final game of the 2016 State of Origin series took place at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, with New South Wales defeating Queensland 18-14. Queensland won the series 2-1 having picked up victories in the opening two fixtures.