SYDNEY: Australian rugby league’s grand final will take place outside Sydney for the first time ever this year with the long-time host city axed due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Wednesday. The sport’s flagship event has been held in New South Wales state, where most of the teams are based, since 1908. But with Sydney in lockdown as it battles an outbreak of the Delta variant, the October 3 decider has been moved to Brisbane in neighbouring Queensland, which is largely Covid-free, and where capacity crowds are allowed. “This year we will create history, playing the grand final in Brisbane for the very first time,” Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys told reporters. “This will be a historic moment for the city and a reward for the support the Queensland community has given us throughout 2021.” The NRL moved the entire 16-team competition to Queensland in mid-July after NSW’s outbreak, with clubs in Covid bubbles ever since. Sydney’s Olympic Stadium hosted last year’s final despite the pandemic, with the crowd capped at 50 percent to see Melbourne Storm beat the Penrith Panthers. Bagging the showpiece match is another coup for Queensland, which last year hosted the Australian Rules grand final after it was shifted from Melbourne —- for the first time since 1898 —- because of the outbreak. The state is also hosting this year’s Rugby Championship, with New Zealand playing Argentina and Australia facing world champions South Africa on the Gold Coast this weekend.