Cronulla’s bid to host a home semi-final in the Shire has been knocked back by the NRL.
The Sharks continued their relentless march towards the minor premiership – and a home fixture in week one of the finals – when they recorded their 15th straight win with a 36-4 rout of Newcastle on Sunday.
Under NRL rules, the Sharks would be forced to take a home semi-final to Allianz Stadium or ANZ Stadium.
The Sharks were hoping to convince the NRL to bend the rules to allow them to play a first week final at home ground Southern Cross Group Stadium, should they finish in the top two.
Sharks chief executive Lyall Gorman on Monday met with NRL boss Todd Greenberg and was told the governing body would not be changing its finals stadia policy.
“We understand the Sharks position but we need to ensure we stage our finals in our best venues where we can cater for a big crowd in the best facilities,” an NRL spokesman said.
“The Sharks average 28,000 for finals matches at Allianz and we want to ensure all their fans can get a seat if they host a final this year.”
The Sharks had argued that because the likes of North Queensland, Canberra and Melbourne would be able to play in front of their home fans, Sharks supporters shouldn’t be forced to travel from the Shire to see their team play in the first week of the finals.
“This isn’t an assault on the NRL over where the finals series will be played but as (coach) Shane (Flanagan) pointed out, (1300 Smiles Stadium) will have one, AAMI (Park) will, Canberra would as well,” Sharks chief executive Lyall Gorman said on Sunday.
“So why not us would be the question and what do we have to do we get one?”.
Veteran hooker Michael Ennis was the catalyst for the idea, saying commercially there wasn’t a lot of difference between playing the games at Shark Park or Allianz Stadium.
The Sharks attracted 27,031 to Allianz Stadium for their home qualifying final against South Sydney last year while Southern Cross Group Stadium has a 22,000 capacity.
Ennis said all Sydney clubs should be afforded the right to host home semi-finals at their traditional suburban grounds.
“The home fans deserve it and they come out and support their teams,” Ennis said.
“We’re forever asking them for memberships, asking to give to the club to help fund it and do what it does day-to-day.
“When a semi-final comes around we tell them we’re going to drag it into the city.
“They’ve been coming here and turning out week after week and the boys have been playing their hearts out here.
“We deserve the advantage too so we’ll keep fighting for it.”