Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver has defended staging the Wallabies Test against England on suspect turf at AAMI Park with the MCG vacant this weekend.
With a split round in the AFL, game two of the three-Test series between the old foes could have been played at the 100,000-seat MCG rather AAMI Park, which only holds 30,000 next door.
There are only limited tickets still available, with the match expected to sell out.
There are doubts about whether the turf at the rectangular stadium will hold up, with scrums during the Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby home games having to be moved and reset due to loose ground.
Pulver admitted he was concerned about the ground being an embarrassment on the world stage.
“I’m being told the turf is going to be fine but it is a issue I’m very concerned about,” Pulver told AAP.
The MCG hosted the second match of the State of Origin rugby league series last year, drawing the showpiece game’s biggest ever crowd.
Pulver however said the ARU had listened to rugby fans who preferred to watch Test matches at rectangular stadiums.
“If you watch rugby at the MCG or Sydney Olympic Park, if you’re in the bowls on the side, you’re 100 metres from the side of the field so it’s not as good a fan experience as a rectangular stadium.
“We’re happy to cop a slightly smaller game day audience in order to ensure they have the best experience.
“AAMI Park is perfect and there’s going to be an incredible atmosphere.”
Pulver said the ARU was considering playing the Bledisloe Cup at the MCG, when a huge crowd was guaranteed.
He said with Sydney’s Olympic Stadium being out of action between 2019 and 2022, the MCG was a contender to host a game of the annual series between Australia and New Zealand.
The MCG has hosted three Bledisloe Cup rugby union matches – the last in 2007 – with an average attendance of over 81,000.
“With the size of the MCG the event we want contemplate bringing there is a Bledisloe Cup and as we’ll be looking for a new home this ground may be a chance of one of those,” Pulver said.