South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou has implored the NSW government to allow the Rabbitohs to move to the new Sydney Football Stadium next season as the club waits in limbo without a home ground locked in for 2023.
As revealed in The Daily Telegraph, Souths chief executive Blake Solly said the club had “bucket loads of uncertainty” because a potential move to Moore Park hasn’t been approved by the state government.
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The Rabbitohs have called the Olympic precinct home since 2006 but are keen to return to Allianz Stadium, which is on the same light rail line as their juniors club in Kingsford.
But the government has yet to approve the move, which means the Rabbitohs can’t sell memberships or corporate packages for 2023 because their fans don’t know which ground they’d be committing to.
“We’re a big club that deserves to be playing in big stadiums,” Demetriou said, joking that they’d gladly play at Redfern Oval if they had to.
“They’ve just built an $800m stadium in our backyard, so I think it makes common sense to me that we’re playing there.
“It’s a stadium that’s built in the heartland of South Sydney.
“It’s down the road from our junior leagues club, so there’s a real opportunity for us to spend some time there and venture into the ground from there and for our members to meet the players post-game.
“All that sort of stuff makes everything easier and that’s why we’re really excited and hopeful of getting in there.
“It’s in our area, so it’d be great to have us playing there and I’m sure our fans and our members and our supporters would love to have a venue closer to home. I know the players would be excited as well.”
The Rabbitohs will officially open the stadium in round 25 when they take on the Roosters in a game that could decide eighth spot on the ladder.
The lack of certainty around their future has had no impact on the playing group yet, but Demetriou says it could if things are left to fester.
“We’ve got that much going on in terms of playing footy,” he said.
“It’s a distraction if we’re getting too caught up in it, but we have no control over it. I don’t as a coach, and I know the players don’t as players.
“But they’re excited about playing there in round 25 and there’s a genuine excitement to play there. I think sharing it with the Roosters and having 20 games a year would be outstanding, not just for clubs, but for the NRL as well.”
It’s a distraction the Bunnies could do without as they prepare for a brutal four-week stretch leading into the finals.
The Rabbitohs play western Sydney heavyweights Parramatta and Penrith and then finish the regular season with games against the second-placed Cowboys and the Roosters in a grudge game to open Allianz Stadium.
It’s a tough stretch but at least they go into Friday’s game at CommBank Stadium knowing they have the wood on Parramatta after five-straight wins over the Eels.
“The last time we played them we were coming off an ordinary performance so we were pretty motivated for that game,” the coach said.
“That’s our challenge tomorrow night – to bring that same motivation off the back of some good performances.
“We’re going in the right direction but we’re playing some bigger teams now that can score points. Parramatta is as good as anyone at scoring points and they are dangerous right across the park, so it’ll be a good test for our defence.”