Sharks weigh up fresh bite into Dragons territory

WIN stadium in Wollongong has emerged as a potential temporary home for Cronulla. Picture: Adam McLean
WIN stadium in Wollongong has emerged as a potential temporary home for Cronulla. Picture: Adam McLean

Cronulla are considering a fresh incursion into Dragons territory, adding WIN Stadium to a list of potential alternatives if they are temporarily forced out of their home ground.

Just weeks after it was revealed Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium is being considered as a temporary home if they are forced to relocate during the long-awaited redevelopment of their leagues club precinct, the Sharks are now also exploring the feasibility of taking games to WIN.

Cronulla could opt to play at one or both of St George Illawarra's home grounds, although several other options are also being considered.

The feasibility of Bankwest Stadium is being explored, while there is also interest in taking games to Darwin, the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba or regional NSW. It's possible the Sharks will settle on a combination of the aforementioned options, as opposed to choosing just one temporary home if they are displaced from PointsBet Stadium during the construction phase of the leagues club refurbishment.

However, the fact that two of the contingencies are the home grounds of their fiercest rivals, St George Illawarra, will only add more spice to the local derby.

Sharks chief executive Richard Munro outlined the scenarios to players on Tuesday, seeking their feedback as part of a consultation process with all stakeholders.

"It's full disclosure, we haven't made a decision, we're looking at all of the options," Munro said.

"What we're doing now is putting all the options on the table and seeing what suits the club, the playing group, the members and everyone else. There are a few different drivers here. There's the financial (consideration), making sure the membership is happy and then there's the playing group, who feel strongly about Shark Park.

"They see it as a fortress and have had success there, but have also proven to be good on the road as well. We are considering all of that.

"It's balancing those drivers with what we do with a view to potentially attracting new fans across the country."

The Sharks, the only Sydney club that own their home ground, could be nomads for up to two years during construction.

Despite it being enemy territory, Kogarah holds appeal because it is just 10km up the road, meaning fans won't have a long commute to watch their side. Wollongong, however, is a 65km trek, while the journey to Bankwest is 40 kilometres.

Sharks powerbrokers have been in talks with Venues NSW, the operators of Bankwest and WIN stadiums, about those stadiums. A decision will come down to whether the proximity of Kogarah is sufficiently offset by the potential financial returns that can be made at the corporate and fan-friendly Bankwest. Wests Tigers, Canterbury and South Sydney have already committed to some Bankwest fixtures this year or next. But the great unknown is whether Sharks fans will travel into the western suburbs to cheer their team.

"We're not just jumping into a decision, we're being very considered with it all," Munro said.

"I have the full support of the playing group and the board and we will go out to members next to do some information sessions on it."

Delays in delivering Sydney's new stadium network have complicated matters for NRL clubs and may even result in the Harbour City losing the 2021 grand final.

The NRL is seeking up to $10 million in compensation to offset the loss of earnings resulting in hosting two deciders at the Sydney Cricket Ground.