Cronulla Sharks could take home games to Kogarah

On the move?: Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cronulla Sharks would take home games to Kogarah in 2020. Picture: AAP
On the move?: Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cronulla Sharks would take home games to Kogarah in 2020. Picture: AAP

It's the ground where the legends of Raper, Gasnier and Langlands were born, now the Sharks could take the extraordinary step of moving home games into the territory of arch rivals St George Illawarra.

It's understood the long-awaited refurbishment of Cronulla's leagues club has prompted discussion whether to shift some of their fixtures 10km up the road to Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, the traditional home of their long-time enemies.

No exact start date has been confirmed for the next stage of Cronulla's vast redevelopment, which has included residential units adjacent to PointsBet Stadium. But construction on the leagues club, which forms part of the eastern grandstand, is expected to begin in 2020.

It has forced Sharks officials to consider drastic contingency plans for their home fixtures, which includes shifting either some or all of their games away from PointsBet Stadium during the redevelopment. The construction is expected to take up to two years.

Rivalry: Tyson Frizell's Dragons and Paul Gallen's Sharks share a long history. Picture: Adam McLean

Rivalry: Tyson Frizell's Dragons and Paul Gallen's Sharks share a long history. Picture: Adam McLean

The Sharks are the only club in Sydney which owns their home ground.

But it comes with significant costs and Cronulla officials are seriously mulling whether to schedule a portion of their matches across the bay and dive straight into the heartland of their fiercest rivals.

"There are many options and we're considering them all while we go through a design and construction phase," Sharks chief executive Richard Munro said.

"The Dragons are spoilt, they have two fantastic venues in [Nestrata] Jubilee and WIN Stadium. We are all cousins at the end of the day in the same game, all trying to make it work. We look forward to meeting them on the field there as a minimum.

"We are working with the NRL around our options to maximise the value for our members. We want to maximise the Sharks brand without taking them out of our heartland. We are building a spectacular development and it will be very exciting when it is launched."

The Sharks haven't given up hope of still playing all of their home games at PointsBet Stadium but, given the uncertainty around the construction phase, could enter a deal with Georges River Council to use Kogarah.

Cronulla could also host a Magic Round game at Suncorp Stadium next year while they will ponder taking a fixture to regional NSW or interstate, where local councils provide cash incentives to lure NRL matches.

Fiji has previously expressed an interest in hosting a Cronulla home game.

Earlier this year Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta revealed the club needed a crowd of 16,500 at every home game just to break even. The largest attendance for a Sharks match at PointsBet Stadium in 2018 was just 14,800, meaning playing out of their own stadium comes at a considerable expense.

The Dragons play five of their home games each year at Kogarah, splitting games with Wollongong's WIN Stadium. St George Illawarra's current deal with Georges River Council to play out of Netstrata Jubilee Stadium expires at the end of the season.

It would be a bizarre scenario to see the Sharks playing more fixtures at Kogarah next year than their sworn enemies given the Dragons' long history at the venue.

But Cronulla officials are initially reticent to make their fans travel across the city to Bankwest Stadium, which will be Sydney's primary NRL venue during the rebuild of Allianz Stadium and the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium.

Netstrata Jubilee Stadium has been forced to shoulder much of the burden during the hotly debated Sydney stadia overhaul, taking in A-League, W-League and Asian Champions League football games over summer which forced the playing surface to deteriorate.

The Dragons moved a trial match against Newcastle to WIN Stadium owing to concerns over the field.