Driving around the streets of Penrith and Redfern, you would not know the premiership decider is being held in Brisbane for the first time in the competition’s 114-year history.
Losing the grand final rights was a big blow to Sydneysiders, but the diehard fans are out in full force, finding different ways to celebrate their teams success.
Fourth-generation Souths fan Jason Gill emptied three hardware stores to buy enough paint to transform his prized front lawn into a Rabbitohs tribute.
“[We] string-lined the grass and just a lot of spray cans and hard work. It took about four hours and just shows how passionate we are and that we are a little bit wild and crazy supporters,” Mr Gill said.
With New South Wales residents locked out of Queensland for the grand final, fans are hurting during what should be a week for celebrating.
“This is the kids first grand final and we wanted to give them an experience, obviously not being able to be there, pretty disappointing, so we are trying to make the most of what we can do,” Mr Gill said.
“It’s brought the kids together, got us out of the house for a day and given us something to do during lockdown. We are a pretty passionate bunch.”
Having been in lockdown for months, fans have found league has been a saving grace for for those confined to their houses during restriction periods.
“It would mean so much [for the Rabbitohs to win],” Souths fan Patrick Ripoll said.
“Even more so because of the current lockdown restrictions, having your team that you passionately follow become champions is the goal everyone strives for.”
The last time the Bunnies won the title, in 2014, thousands rallied in Redfern, taking the celebrations to the streets.
In today’s COVID-19 world, that’s not possible, but the club has been pushing for outdoor gatherings to be allowed on Sunday, so fans have a place to watch the game together.
However, the New South Wales government has not come to the party and has ruled out an easing of restrictions for the event.
“I will be watching at home with my wife. The neighbours will definitely know I am a Souths supporter but, hopefully, when lockdowns are over everyone can catch up and celebrate properly,” Mr Ripoll said.
Panthers show their colours in Penrith
Almost 1,000 kilometres from Sunday’s NRL grand final action in Brisbane, the Panther parade is out in big numbers in Penrith.
“We’ve been raised Penrith through and through, it’s in our blood,” Panthers fan Donna Steele said.
Donna’s father, Ray Steele, played for the Panthers in the 1960s.
“Dad was playing up in West Wyalong in the 60s. Penrith approached him and brought him down. He played 1969, 1970 and ’71, where he broke his collarbone, twice, then broke it again in 1971 and was put into early retirement,” Steele said.
With border closures in force, they are unable to be at the game. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, they are also unable to watch the game together.
“It’s tough — Dad’s my biggest inspiration in life and to not have him — as I do every other year, sitting beside me — it’s going to be bitter sweet when they do win,” Steele said.
“[At] half time, we’ll ring Poppy and celebrate.”
Before COVID-19, nothing would stop these diehard fans from cheering on their beloved team.
“We go to every single home game, so that’s hard. Even putting on the jersey is sad. It’s like we can’t actually go to the game,” Sienna Steele said.
“We’ll be watching just on TV at home, just keeping it in our little family, just the four of us.”