Perth’s multi-use Optus Stadium has banned teams from training at the venue for the next three weeks in an effort to address issues with the turf.
In recent weeks, a number of Australian Football League (AFL) coaches have hit out at the condition of the pitch at the Stadium and the impact it has had on their players.
Sydney Swans coach John Longmire is the latest to speak out over the situation, after confirming Lance Franklin would miss the team’s next game due to a heel injury picked up in the round one win against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium.
Aside from the Eagles, the stadium is home to AFL rival Fremantle Dockers and Big Bash League cricket outfit Perth Scorchers. The Optus Stadium only opened in December.
A stadium spokeswoman said that although testing indicates the playing surface is in line with AFL requirements, management has taken feedback into account and will close the venue for training until the middle of next month.
“While the surface success-fully meets and in fact tests at the softer end of the required AFL standards, some players have reported the ground feels firm by comparison to the old Subiaco Oval,” she said, according to the West Australian.
“Optus Stadium management takes this feedback very seriously. The rye grass was sown into the turf in February ahead of the AFL season and as it continues to grow, it will ultimately assist to make the surface feel softer.
“In order for the rye to have the best possible conditions to grow, the AFL, West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers have agreed to conduct training sessions away from Optus Stadium for the next three weeks.
“The away teams in rounds seven and eight, Port Adelaide and St Kilda, have also agreed with this plan and will train elsewhere.”
Image: Tama Leaver