Cronulla Sharks get chance to bury Brookvale Oval hoodoo after NRL confirm finals venue

Cronulla won at Brookvale Oval against a strong Manly side in 2008 that would go on to win the premiership. Picture: Dallas Kilponen
Cronulla won at Brookvale Oval against a strong Manly side in 2008 that would go on to win the premiership. Picture: Dallas Kilponen

Cronulla's elimination final against Manly will go ahead at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night after the NRL allowed the game to be played at the suburban ground.

The Sea Eagles had looked into playing the game at Parramatta's Bankwest Stadium and reportedly turned down an offer to move the game to the Central Coast after the NRL announced Brookvale Oval was subject to a safety assessment.

The NRL was informed on Friday night that isolated traces of asbestos had been found in a small area on the northern hill area at Brookvale Oval.

The testing was part of the standard excavation planning for Manly's new centre of excellence on the northern side of the ground.

Manly's club management and the NRL had agreed that in the event Northern Beaches Council could not provide the governing body and the club with necessary safety assurances by Monday night the match would be transferred to Parramatta, where the Eels will host Brisbane in the other elimination final on Sunday.

But the NRL received a formal guarantee from the council on Monday based on expert advice that there would be no risk to public safety.

Cronulla have an abysmal record against Manly historically. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla have an abysmal record against Manly historically. Picture: John Veage

Further testing was carried out on Monday and showed no traces of asbestos in any other part of the ground. The NRL said the affected area would be managed by covering with synthetic turf to remove any risk.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said their priority was ensure fan and player safety.

"Our number one priority is ensuring the safety of both our players and members of the public at each and every match,'' he said.

"Council has shown us a detailed plan which removes all risk and ensures no threat to public safety. On that basis we have granted approval for the match to remain at [Brookvale Oval]."

Tickets will go on sale to members at 11am on Tuesday and the general public at 4pm.

Cronulla have a dismal record against Manly and at Brookvale Oval. The Sharks have lost their last six straight games at the venue and 16 of their last 18 clashes with the Sea Eagles.

Though the Sharks did win at Brookvale Oval against a strong Manly side in 2008 that would go on to win the premiership, a game Cronulla captain Paul Gallen played in.

John Morris and his team will be confident of ending the hoodoo on Saturday night given Manly's decimated roster.

Star fullback Tom Trbojevic and outstanding back-rower Curtis Sironen are out for the season through injury. Manly's other back-rower, Joel Thompson, remains sidelined with a broken arm. While starting prop Martin Taupau is suspended.

Manly lost their final two regular season matches to slide out of the top four and into sixth place on the table, setting up a 'battle of the beaches' to stay alive in 2019.

Cronulla will be without Ronaldo Mulitalo after the young winger entered an early guilty plea to a shoulder charge on Luke Brooks in the Sharks' win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday. Matt Moylan is also unlikely to return from a hamstring injury.

"Unfortunately it could not be guaranteed when the schedule was confirmed," Greenberg had said on Sunday night.

"We have given the local council and the Sea Eagles a period of grace of 24 hours in order to assess the safety of the venue before we release tickets.

"We have worked with Northern Beaches Council and the Sea Eagles to ensure the club is given the opportunity to host a final, while ensuring the safety of our supporters is paramount."

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