Stars headline grand final entertainment while King Wally gets royal treatment

A galaxy of stars will headline the NRL grand final entertainment while Brisbane will pay tribute to rugby league royalty in the lead-up to the game with King George Square renamed King Wally Square.

Grand Final Week officially kicked off on Sunday evening with Brisbane City Hall, King George Tower and the Hilton lit up with iconic images from the season, tributes to Penrith and South Sydney, the game’s fans and a thank you to the Queensland community for their hospitality.

King George Square in the Brisbane CBD is being renamed King Wally Square in honour of Queensland Immortal Wally Lewis as part of a two-day NRL Fan Fest on Thursday and Friday, culminating with the appearance of both teams on Friday afternoon.

"I think the name choice is fantastic," Lewis said with a laugh on Sunday night.

"A lot of people have been asking me if I think it's a little bit of a giggle fest. Yeah, I do but after King George passed away I think it was 83 years ago, it was put in his honour. I don't have any plans to be passing away soon.

"To have an honour like this certainly is wonderful but I'm fully aware it's only going to be going on whilst the rugby league grand final is being put in the planners and it's going to be going back to King George Square immediately after the game is finished."

Lewis said he was extremely proud of the people of Queensland for offering their support to the NRL players in recent months during difficult circumstances."

Next Sunday's pre-game entertainment at Suncorp Stadium will have a Queensland theme with home-grown star Kate Miller-Heidke to sing the national anthem and the award-winning singer-songwriter will also lead the entertainment with Ian Moss, respected across the globe as one of Australia’s most iconic musicians.

Globe-trotting DJs and producers The Stafford Brothers, multi-Platinum DJ, producer and live instrumentalist Timmy Trumpet, internationally acclaimed didgeridoo player and composer William Barton and a 40-piece Orchestra will complete the grand final entertainment which will also include a spectacular light show.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the week-long celebration was a fitting way to thank Queensland for supporting the Telstra Premiership in 2021 after 13 teams relocated to the Sunshine State in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is an historic week for rugby league in Queensland as we will light up some of Brisbane’s best known landmarks with iconic images from our season," he said.

"This is also an opportunity to say thank you to fans and Queenslanders for hosting us in 2021.

"The grand final is more than game day, it’s a week-long celebration of clubs, players and most importantly fans.

"This week is also an opportunity for us to provide a boost for the local economy. Visitors from across Queensland will be in Brisbane for the grand final. The first allocation of tickets have sold out and the final 7000 tickets will be released on Monday."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said excitement for the grand final would hit fever pitch this week.

"I have long said Queensland deserves a grand final," she said.

"We’re happy that our strong health response has made this possible. Major sporting events inject millions of dollars into Queensland businesses, supporting local jobs and helping to rebuild our economy.

"We’ve seen with Magic Round the strong benefits events like this can deliver for tourism and hospitality businesses. An NRL grand final is a dream come true for footy fans across the state. I encourage all Queenslanders to make the most of having the grand final here in rugby league heartland."

Miller-Heidke said she was "absolutely thrilled and proud to get to sing at the grand final - it’s a huge honour" while Moss is no stranger to the grand final stage.

"Performing at the 2015 grand final with Cold Chisel was one of those career moments that we all look to play, so to be asked back to perform at the 2021 Telstra Premiership grand final at Suncorp Stadium here in the beautiful Sunshine State is an honour.

"And to share the stage with the immensely talented Kate Miller-Heidke and William Barton is such an added bonus and a true gift. I can't wait."

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said renaming King George Square after King Wally and lighting up City Hall in NRL team colours were fitting ways to celebrate the grand final coming to Brisbane.

"Queensland football fans have long wanted the grand final to be held at Suncorp Stadium, which is still the best rugby league ground in the world," he said.

"Now that it’s finally happening, we want to ensure the city celebrates and embraces this incredible opportunity by creating a real festival feel.

"Renaming our square after King Wally, who is regarded as one of the best rugby league players to ever pull on a pair of boots, and lighting up City Hall in NRL team colours will help get people excited."

Grand final day will will also feature preliminary finals from the Intrust Super Cup.

The final allocation of supporter bay tickets, for Penrith and Souths fans, will be released on Monday with club members accessing the tickets at 10am and any remaining seats going on sale to the general public at 4pm.


Photo file NRL  Caption: Queensland legend, Wally Lewis