Cronulla veteran Michael Ennis has called for a re-think of the NRL’s final stadium policy and for September football to be brought to the Shire.
The Sharks are flying high in top spot following 14 straight wins and seemingly headed towards earning a home game in week one of the finals.
However under NRL rules, any Sydney team that earns the right to a home final must take the game to one of the NSW capital’s big stadiums – either Allianz or ANZ Stadium.
Ennis said that was a slap in the face to the Southern Cross Group Stadium faithful who have shown up in their droves to support the joint premiership favourites this year.
“I think our fans deserve a home semi-final,” Ennis said.
“If we work hard enough and continue to do what we’re doing at the moment and earn the right to get through this competition, those guys need to be rewarded with a home semi-final.
“We love playing here and they love coming here.
“The difference between getting 22,000 or 23,000 at Allianz (Stadium), compared to a full house here at 20,000 – commercially there’s not a lot of difference but the atmosphere and everything else that comes with it is what the players deserve.”
He has taken his case to coach Shane Flanagan and chief executive Lyall Gorman and asked them to lobby the NRL to allow the Sharks – should they finish in the top two – to play a home final at their home ground.
He admitted that it is an uphill battle to get the NRL to make an exception but says it is a battle the Sharks need to fight.
The Sharks have in years passed taken their home semi-finals to Allianz Stadium at Moore Park.
Flanagan’s side are in first with 34 points, four wins ahead of third-placed North Queensland with seven games to play, putting them in the box seat for a top two finish.
“Our fans have turned out at every game this year – massive crowds and they really get behind us,” Ennis said.
“I’d love those guys have the opportunity to see a semi-final here.”