Rugby League Players’ Association boss Ian Prendergast has thrown his support behind the NRL’s stadium policy.
As the NRL continues to negotiate with clubs to meet the requirements of the NSW government’s $1.6 billion commitment to Sydney’s stadia, Prendergast believes the three-stadium strategy is vital to the game’s growth.
Before taking over the reins of the RLPA, Prendergast was second-in-charge at the AFL Players’ Association. In Melbourne, the AFL’s move away from suburban grounds to the MCG and Etihad Stadium has reaped huge benefits for the code.
“That is something that the NRL have led – we understand why they are doing it,” Prendergast told AAP.
“We are supportive of it in principle. But there are a lot of issues that have to be worked through with the clubs to make sure that it is a whole-of-industry approach and it is going to work for everyone.”
Prendergast said the NRL’s stadium strategy was the best situation for the fans.
“It is about the fan experience and making sure that we elevate the game because, on field, the players are putting in incredible performances which are being recognised through what the broadcasters are prepared to pay for the rights to show it,” he said.
“Everything else in our industry needs to meet those professional standards.”
However, Prendergast said there remained a place in rugby league for the suburban venues.
“There is still a place for the suburban grounds as training facilities and to perhaps play a certain amount of games at,” he said.
“But the strategy is to move towards three major stadiums and I think there is a lot of merit in that.
“So I am hopeful that that allows us to draw more of a crowd and deliver better facilities for the future.”