Rabbitohs v Sharks
Rabbitohs v Sharks

How to get into NRL games as 88-day fan lockout ends

OFFICIALS at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium will temperature check some 2000 NRL fans this weekend as rugby league crowds begin returning for what could be 'Full House' signs within weeks.

While NSW deputy premier John Barilaro is pushing to have NRL grounds completely open by July, Parramatta, South Sydney and Canterbury are each being given 650 tickets for games at Bankwest Stadium this weekend

As part of strict entry conditions, every supporter will have to pass the same temperature check NRL players also currently receive daily before entering club training facilities.

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Every spectator will also be required to adhere to social distancing guidelines still in place throughout pubs and clubs across State.

Elsewhere, Bankwest Stadium has also employed a team of cleaners to continually disinfect 'high touch areas' throughout the course of each event, while fans will also have separate entry and exit points.

While the venue's corporate suites will be catered for just like prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will slight differences when it comes to how patrons access food and beverages.

Under the guidelines, some patrons will have food delivered to their individual seats however stadium staff are not required to wear masks.

Crowds will start to return to NRL games this weekend. Picture: Jane Dempster
Crowds will start to return to NRL games this weekend. Picture: Jane Dempster

The NRL confirmed the weekend's other venues, Campbelltown Stadium and Central Coast Stadium, would also host a small number of fans in their own respective corporate areas.

Yet despite the restrictions meaning only 5000 fans will watch NRL matches live this weekend, Barilaro is hoping to open grounds up to far more supporters by as early as next week.

As part of his push to free up the state, the NSW Nationals leader wants COVID-19 restrictions dramatically eased in time for Round 6, before then being scrapped entirely by July 1.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro is a diehard Manly fan. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Deputy Premier John Barilaro is a diehard Manly fan. Picture: Dylan Robinson

If that is to happen, the lifelong Manly fan could potentially be in the crowd for that week's Thursday Night Football clash between his Sea Eagles and Brisbane Broncos at Central Coast Stadium.

As part of his bid to "let the NRL loose", Barilaro also wants to see blockbuster NRL matches transferred to ANZ Stadium where spectators could be separated by just one or two seats.

A Rabbitohs spokesman said last night that Hollywood owner Russell Crowe is unlikely to be among their 650 fans for Saturday afternoon's match against the Gold Coast Titans.

 

88-day fan lockout ends

By Michael Carayannis

I has been 88 long days but rugby league will open the door ever so slightly to fans on Thursday night and Manly supporters are pumped for the opportunity to be the first to cheer on their side from the grandstands.

The Sea Eagles were still awaiting final government clearance on their numbers last night but expect to have between 130 and 180 people attend their match against the Broncos at Gosford on Thursday night.

It'll be the first time fans have been allowed to return to games since the Dragons hosted Wests Tigers in Wollongong in round one.

In recent weeks, the crowd at games have been made up of cardboard cut-outs. Picture: AAP
In recent weeks, the crowd at games have been made up of cardboard cut-outs. Picture: AAP

The NRL went behind closed doors in round two and only a handful of essential people have been allowed access to games since.

Twenty-five year Sea Eagle member Karen Wetzler is one of the select few who will be able to go to the match. The Gosford resident usually makes the trip to Brookvale so is enthusiastic to attend a "home" game.

"We're desperate to get back into it," Wetzler said. "I'm very excited."

Each person will be temperature checked on their way in and must adhere to strict social distancing measures.

It won’t be at Brookvale... but Manly fans will return to the footy on Thursday night. Picture: Brett Costello
It won’t be at Brookvale... but Manly fans will return to the footy on Thursday night. Picture: Brett Costello

Sea Eagles member Bikraj Singh-Bhatty said it was a "privilege" to attend.

"I'm dying to go to a game," Sing-Bhatty said. "It's an experience you don't realise how much you miss until you do.

"I've been spewing sitting at home especially not going to Brookie. Just watching live sport, sport is such a good way of bringing people together."

The Sea Eagles will split their allocation between corporate sponsors and their longest term members. Manly chief executive Stephen Humphreys said the club would work out a different strategy ahead of their next home game against Cronulla on June 28.

"Given the really short turn around this week and the limited number of people we went straight to our longest serving members first," Humphreys said.

"Hopefully leading into our next game in two weeks we can think more broadly. Given we're 24 hours form the game and do not know our final numbers yet.

"We thought that was the right thing to do was to reward those who have been long-term. Our team have been ringing people today and there is tremendous excitement and enthusiasm."

The Rabbitohs are in the midst of finalising a member ballot for their home match against the Titans on Saturday afternoon.

Ticketed Members will be drawn at random and contacted by the club this morning. About 500 people will be allowed into Bankwest Stadium.

Campbelltown Stadium is only expected to be allowed 150 people because of its smaller corporate spaces.



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