Locked in: Magic Round back with a COVID twist
The NRL Magic Round is officially back as the code continues to push on from its COVID-affected 2020 season.
The three-day footy festival will be officially launched in Brisbane on Monday to kick off preparations for the event, which was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The code's 16 clubs will descend on the River City from May 14 to 16 to play all eight matches of Round 10 at Suncorp Stadium.
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The inaugural Magic Round was a huge success when it was introduced during the 2019 season.
The NRL confirmed on Sunday it was working through a variety of COVID-related scenarios based on current restrictions in place around the country to mitigate any last-minute health advice changes.
Plans are also in place to have players undergo temperature checks and routine health monitoring while in Brisbane.
After a year of upheaval, Queensland's NRL players are hoping a bit of magic can help make the 2021 season one to remember.
"It'll be exciting to have Magic Round back after last year where we didn't have any crowds," Broncos fullback Jamayne Isaako said.
"It's an occasion a lot of teams get up for, and a lot of the players don't often get to play at Suncorp Stadium so for them it's really exciting."
North Queensland centre Justin O'Neill and Titans utility Corey Thompson are also thrilled to see Magic Round return after last year's hiatus.
"It's been a tough start to the year for some cities so hopefully fans can get here and celebrate the sport," Thompson said.
Queensland's Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Magic Round would be a shot in the arm for the state's economy.
"Last year was challenging for tourism and events but Queensland's response to the global COVID-19 pandemic meant we're able to stage COVID-safe events sooner and become Australia's hub of elite sport," Hinchliffe said.
"Events continue to play a big role in our COVID-19 economic recovery with this year's NRL Magic Round expected to attract more than 29,000 football fans to Queensland and support local jobs by contributing almost $22 million to Brisbane's visitor economy."
Three-day passes are now available from $89 for adult club members and $229 for families.
Originally published as Locked in: Magic Round back with a COVID twist