AAP Rugby

NRL could farewell Allianz with sellout

By AAP Newswire

The NRL is set to farewell Allianz Stadium with its biggest finals crowd at the venue in at least 13 years after being gifted a rivalry weekend of preliminary finals.

The Sydney Roosters and South Sydney have never met in a finals match at the Sydney Football Stadium, which has not attracted more than 40,000 fans for September football since 2005.

The NRL last week defended the decision to host the Roosters' preliminary final at the ground, with boss Todd Greenberg revealing forecasts for the match were for between 40,000-50,000 in the 45,500-capacity stadium which includes standing room and members.

More than 52,000 people attended a preliminary final between the two sides at ANZ Stadium in 2014, while almost 60,000 were at a final-round clash between the rivals to decide the minor premiership at the same ground in 2013.

Regardless, anything close to a sell out would trump any finals crowd at Moore Park since the Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra faced off 13 years ago.

The biggest crowd since then was the 37,752 who watched Newcastle and the Sydney Roosters in 2013.

The match will be the last played at the ground before it is shut down for redevelopment work before its re-opening in 2022, and the Roosters desperate to farewell their home with a win.

"It's our home. I love the stadium, I've been here for 10 years and love every minute of it," veteran Mitchell Aubusson said.

"Hopefully we get a really good crowd and send out the stadium with a really good Roosters performance."

The clash between the Roosters and Rabbitohs is a gift for the league on the crowds front, after mixed numbers attended the two all-Sydney semi-finals.

Just 19,211 turned up for Cronulla's 21-20 win over Penrith on Friday night, before 48,188 witnessed Souths' 13-12 victory over the Dragons at ANZ Stadium.

Meanwhile, Melbourne's preliminary final clash with Cronulla will be played at AAMI Park and next door to a heaving MCG for the AFL's preliminary final between Collingwood and Richmond.

But both the Storm and the Sharks have built up a genuine rivalry over recent seasons, due largely to the 2016 grand final and bad blood between the likes of Paul Gallen and Will Chambers.

"It's two competitive sides who want to win and it does come back to the grand final a couple of years ago," said Storm winger and former Cronulla junior Josh Addo-Carr.

BIGGEST ALLIANZ STADIUM FINALS CROWDS (Excludes grand finals):

* 41,941 - Canberra v North Sydney, 1994

* 41, 865 - Canterbury v Canberra, 1994

* 41,384 - Canterbury v St George, 1993

* 41,260 - St George Illawarra v Wests Tigers, 2005

* 41,123 - Sydney Roosters v Canterbury, 2003