NRL stands by under-fire finals stadium policy


NRL boss Andrew Abdo has ruled out reconsidering the league's venue policy for future finals series, despite the prospect of thousands of frustrated fans being locked out of Cronulla's clash with the Sydney Roosters.

Almost all seated tickets for Saturday's elimination final sold out within an hour of the members' pre-sale beginning on Monday morning, with only single seats available by midday.

A limited number of tickets have been held back for the general public on Tuesday but the match is poised to sell out shortly after they go on sale at 10am.

The Roosters and Sharks have 34,000 club members between them, while the two clubs have a combined average crowd of 36,000 this year.

But with a reduced capacity of 13,500 due to the redevelopment of the adjoining leagues club, PointsBet Stadium is easily the smallest ground in the NRL this year.

The league gives clubs the choice of where to host their first-week finals match and there is little motivation for Cronulla to move the match away from their traditional home.

Taking it to a bigger venue at Allianz Stadium would gift the lower-ranked Roosters home-ground advantage, while clubs do not pocket gate takings for finals matches.

The NRL moved away from the use of suburban grounds in 2011 to limit the number of fans being locked out of finals matches but made a return in 2019 due to the redevelopment of several major stadiums.

At the time, then-CEO Todd Greenberg said the league would consider a move back to big stadiums after the major venues were back online.

But Abdo insisted there was no reason for the NRL to shift back.

"At this stage there is no plan to change anything," Abdo told AAP. 

"The important thing to remember is there are four weeks of finals. Week one it is about rewarding a club for where it finished on the ladder, and those fans.

"They have worked really hard to get into the position to be able to host a final."

Abdo said the capacity crunch merely re-affirmed the league's push for government investment in suburban grounds.

"Our position is unashamedly that we want investment in community assets. We want suburban grounds," he said.

"We want investment in Shark Park, that can hopefully lift capacity over time and give a great experience. That is absolutely our strategy."

Roosters and Sharks members were given equal access to tickets on Monday, but 75 per cent of those sold went to Sharks members, which will no doubt lead to a distinct home-crowd feel on Saturday night.

"For the first round of the final, we've earned that right to play there," Sharks captain Wade Graham said.

"That's where our members and fans love to come. It's our home, we train there, our lockers are there and we're there every day.

"Hopefully, in the future we can get that fixed and get a stadium the community deserves."

His Roosters counterpart James Tedesco said he had no issue with playing at the smaller venue. 

"It's the right way to do it, especially when they deserve the advantage for finishing higher than us," Tedesco said.