Bankwest Stadium has been cleared to continue hosting National Rugby League (NRL) matches after having its playing surface relaid following a series of injuries at the Sydney venue.
The turf at the 30,000-seat stadium in Western Sydney, which only opened last April, was severely criticised after Roosters duo Victor Radley and Sam Verrills suffered season-ending knee injuries during a game against the Dragons last Friday.
The NRL ordered an inspection of the pitch for the following day, with experts deeming the surface to be acceptable.
However, venue operators brought forward a relaying of the surface by a week in any case and this will be completed ahead of the next round of games this coming weekend.
“They have decided, not for safety reasons, but because they can, they’ve decided to bring that forward a week,” said Graham Annesley, NRL head of football.
“They started that process late (Sunday) night. By the time we get to round eight this week it will effectively be a brand new surface.
“It’s not because of any safety concerns, it’s because they had a program in place and it was just as easy for them to bring it forward a week than it was to wait.
“I think that that should clear any fears that anyone has but not because we had any concerns about the field. When you look at the field it probably doesn’t look as pristine but based on the assessments that took place safety was not a concern.”
The new surface will endure a busy weekend with three games planned, as the Eels face the Cowboys on Friday, Wests Tigers take on the Panthers on Saturday, while the Bulldogs play Rabbitohs on Sunday.
This weekend will also see Canberra, Gold Coast and Manly returning to their traditional homes following the three-month lockdown.
Only Melbourne Storm and the Warriors remain temporarily displaced due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 protocols. The Storm will host the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, and the Warriors face Brisbane on the Central Coast.
All NRL venues are currently allowed to operate at 25-per-cent capacity, while Victorian residents have been temporarily locked out from buying tickets.
Image: Philip Terry Graham (Flickr)