Cronulla Sharks face battle to play semi final at Shark Park

The Sharks may be locked out of their traditional home ground during the NRL finals, with concerns over the venue’s facilities.

It seems likely that Cronulla will finish in the top four, and with the minor premiership all-but out of reach, they would have to finish second on the table in order to host a match at Shark Park.

NRL guidelines require teams that are hosting finals in the second and three weeks to play at a major venue in their city – meaning Cronulla would be shunted to Moore Park in the event that they don’t get a chance to host a finals match until either of those weekends.

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But if they were to finish second, they would be entitled to play at Shark Park in week one – should the facilities meet NRL standards.

At the moment, that remains up in the air.

“If we win a home-ground advantage, we would want to play at home,” Sharks chief executive Dino Mezzatesta told AAP.

“That’s our starting point and given we are a fair bit out we will continue to have dialogue with the NRL.

“We have had no problem selling out our games regardless of the timeslot.”

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Due to renovations in the Shire, capacity for recent games has been capped at roughly 11,500 people. Last weekend’s thriller against the Rabbitohs was sold out several days in advance, with an official attendance of 11,492 announced.

For context, in 2008 when the venue last hosted a finals match, the crowd was 18,252.

The ongoing renovations at the stadium have been a hot topic in recent days, with ARLC boss Peter V’landys and NSW premier Dominic Perrottet trading barbs about funding allocated to Shark Park, along with Brookvale and Leichhardt ovals.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said that the governing body hadn’t yet “reached any conclusion that we would relocate the Sharks should they qualify for a home semi-final”.

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