The NRL Grand Final determines the champions of the National Rugby League club competition. It is a major sport event in Australia since 1908, contested at Stadium Australia in Sydney since 1999. The NRL has announced that a very special performance from TINA – The Tina Turner Musical will headline the entertainment at this year’s Grand Final at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on Sunday, Ocotber 01 with a pre-game mini concert. Marking 30 years since Tina Turner’s iconic performance at the 1993 Grand Final and celebrating her unique association with the game, the cast of the musical is bringing Turner’s music back to Rugby League’s biggest stage.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo: “Thirty years on, Tina Turner’s 1993 performance remains one of the great Grand Final moments. This collaboration is a perfect way for Rugby League to pay tribute to Tina and everything she did for our game, and it will be a special moment for fans amongst the outstanding entertainment on offer on Grand Final day.“
October 01, 2023
River Deep Mountain High, Nutbush City Limits, Proud Mary, The Best (Live)
The connection between Tina and Australian rugby league goes back to 1989, when Turner’s manager, Australian Roger Davies, was contacted by a friend at the game’s governing body to enquire about the possibility of using her song What You Get Is What You See in an advertising campaign for the forthcoming season.
Within days, she had agreed to participate and to film some scenes with UK-based Australian players – mugging with them in the changing rooms, laughing and joking, even showing clean hands when taking a pass – for the video. Despite some initial scepticism – former league boss John Quayle recalls the critics asked “how could they possibly use an American black woman to promote the game of league?” – the campaign was deemed a roaring success.
The following year, Davies told Brian Walsh – who ran the sports marketing agency behind the campaign – that his star act was heading back into the studio, and would be recording her version of The Best, for a new album. It was, he told Quayle, a track “written for sport”. Before it was even released, the league had bought the rights to the song, and ever since, it has been synonymous with the game in this country.
Jimmy Barnes recorded a version of it with Turner in 1992 for that year’s campaign, and in 1993, Turner performed it live at the Sydney Football Stadium as the Brisbane Broncos took on the St George Dragons in the season ender. Though she entered into the relationship with rugby league as a novice, Turner was quickly impressed by the toughness of the players, who wore none of the padding of their counterparts in American football. “This is real men out here, with just shoes on their feet, and they could probably do it without the shoes as well,” she said. “I thought, respect.”