Sydneysiders Attend Allianz Stadium Community Open Day Following Rebuild
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Fans arrive for the community open day at Allianz Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. Allianz Stadium is hosting a free community open day and night ahead of the official reopening of the venue on 2 September. The stadium, also known as Sydney Football Stadium, has undergone an $828 million re-build and has been closed since 2019. The new 42,500-seat stadium has a 360-degree open concourse both inside and outside the ground, steeper seating angles, and a roof to cover all seating areas. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Cronulla Sharks have turned down an opportunity to train at the new Allianz Stadium ahead of their must-win semi-final against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, meaning they’ll head into Saturday’s game without any knowledge of the new arena or playing surface.

The Rabbitohs have already played at the ground twice in two weeks following their game against the Sydney Roosters, but Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon believes at this stage of the season it’s consistency that’s most important for his charges.

“We wanted to keep consistency of prep,” Fitzgibbon told AAP.

“We’ll get to experience it first hand on Saturday night. The guys are looking forward to that.

Fitzgibbon rubbished claims that his team might be thrown by the unfamiliar surroundings or how close the fence is to the playing area.

“The field is still the same size, irrespective of how close the fence is to the sideline,” he said.

“You adjust throughout the course of the year. When you get to someone else’s own ground you don’t have the benefit of training there.

“You’ve got to get used to the bearings.

“They’ve all got different feelings once you’re out there, but at the end of the day the fields are similar. Dead-ball (lines) slightly change at some grounds, but other than that, sideline-to-sideline, it’s a footy field.”

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou largely agreed with Fitzgibbon’s claims, but said that a familiarity with the ground did offer some benefit to coaching staff.

“We’re familiar with it, we know what’s coming,” Demetriou said.

“Understanding the size of the changing rooms, the warm-up areas – all those little things you’re familiar with that sometimes when you walk into a new stadium can distract you a little bit.

“Being familiar with that helps when we arrive, but it’s all irrelevant once that whistle goes and the players get into it.”