Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart vows yet another "punch in the head" won't affect their preparation for their NRL grand final qualifier after the Queensland government's dawdling made it impossible for the Hotel Canberra Raiders to go ahead.
After weeks of pressing from the Raiders and the NRL, Annastacia Palaszczuk's government finally got back to the Green Machine at the 11th hour with a list of demands there was no time to meet.
It means Stuart's men won't be able to spend their Friday afternoon relaxing at the Pullman in King George Square ahead of their preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium later that night.
Instead they'll fly up later and go straight to the stadium to prepare for their second consecutive prelim.
The Canberra Times revealed they'd been given the all clear for their hotel, which they used to great affect in their semi-final victory over the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.
But that NRL clearance hasn't translated into getting the lime green light from the Queensland government, which has made a habit of thumbing its nose at Canberra during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stuart and the Raiders were full of praise for the efforts of the NRL in trying to make it happen.
The staff at the Pullman were fully on board and had been working to put the appropriate biosecurity measures in place, only for their own government to effectively kibosh the plan.
It's just another hurdle the 2020 season has thrown in the Green Machine's way, along with the toughest travel toll of any club in the NRL and a mass of injuries.
But it hasn't stopped the Raiders from being within 80 minutes of a grand final and Stuart vowed they wouldn't let this setback affect them either.
"It won't affect us. It hasn't all year. It's just another punch in the head we've copped in the week leading up to a game," Stuart said on Thursday.
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Because of the constant travel early in the season - the Raiders were forced to play home games at Campbelltown Stadium at one point due to the COVID-19 virus - they looked into using a few hours at a hotel as a way to break up the trip.
But the coronavirus breakout in Campbelltown put an end to it.
The Raiders rekindled the idea for the finals and started planning a month ago, given the chance of a Queensland final.
Palaszczuk's government finally responded Wednesday 3pm with a list of demands, but only allowed two hours to fulfill them.
"That's all changed overnight, which has compromised all our preparation again," Stuart said.
"The NRL have been trying to get in communication with the Queensland government for the last three weeks to get this arranged and ticked off.
"The Queensland government got back in touch with them Wednesday 3pm and we needed all the protocols and red-tape done by the close of business yesterday.
"So that hasn't eventuated ... typical of the Queensland government at the moment."
NRL PRELIMINARY FINAL
Friday: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Semi Valemei 3. Jarrod Croker (c) 4. Jordan Rapana 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Tom Starling 10. Sia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Hudson Young 17. Corey Harawira-Naera. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. Matt Timoko 20. Ryan Sutton 21. Michael Oldfield.
Storm squad: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nicholas Hynes. Reserves: 18. Dale Finucane 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Chris Lewis.