The NRL has been forced into an embarrassing re-scheduling of its fixture list after being bumped from an ANZ Stadium date in favour of the AFL final-round blockbuster between Sydney and Hawthorn.
Canterbury were slated to play their western Sydney derby against Penrith at the stadium on Friday, August 30 but the AFL announced on Tuesday, on releasing its final-round fixture list, that the Swans-Hawks grand final rematch would go ahead there on that day.
“We are in a situation where, despite the best of intentions on all sides, a clash has occurred and we are looking at rescheduling the order of our games,” said NRL director of marketing and commercial, Paul Kind.
Canterbury are privately fuming to have lost the chance to play at their home ground with tickets for the fixture being on sale for almost a month.
“We are working with all parties on achieving the best possible resolution that takes into consideration the requirements of our football department, members, fans, corporate partners and the broadcasters,” said new Canterbury CEO Raelene Castle, who took over from Todd Greenberg on Monday.
But a spokesperson for the AFL claimed they’d been told by ANZ Stadium officials for some time that they could have the venue that night if they wanted it.
“They told us all the way through when we discussed our fixtures that if we wanted to play on the Friday night, that was available,” the spokesperson told AAP.
The NRL game, which was expected to have a crowd of around 25,000, is the Bulldogs’ final home game of the season and was due to be shown live on the Nine Network.
One avenue being explored by the NRL is to play the match a day earlier, on the Thursday, with the Bulldogs desperate not to play on the Saturday with a trip to Brisbane to face the Broncos just five days later.
Des Hasler’s side potentially might have to win that game to secure a vital top-four spot on the ladder going into the finals.
The Swans have an agreement in place with ANZ Stadium to play three of their home fixtures there in addition to their finals matches.
So far, they have used it once this season and will play Collingwood there this weekend.Posted on