With just over 12 hours until the kick-off of the historic World Cup final between Australia and Samoa, concerns have been raised about the dimensions of the in-goal area, as well as confusion at the mixed surfaces being used in that area of the field.
Manchester's historic Old Trafford stadium was a highly-rated venue for the game, but the dimensions of the field and the inclusion of advertising signage are raising big concerns about player safety.
Players who may be required to slide to score a try will have little time to react or protect themselves.
Making matters worse, there's also a steep drop-off right at the edge of the in-goal, creating more issues for players trying to arrest their own momentum in a game where such concerns should be minor at best.
The state of the in-goals for the #RLWC2021 final 😬😬😬
Half natural grass/half synthetic grass, steep drop off over dead ball line. Really hope they put significant safety measures in place!
Video via @JakeDuke1 pic.twitter.com/V5Y3XA6kuf
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) November 19, 2022
According to The Daily Telegraph, a regular in-goal in the NRL is roughly eight-metres deep. The current set-up in Manchester is less than five.
Former Australian vice-captain Paul Gallen, who has played at the venue previously, expressed his hopes that preventative measures will be taken to protect players as kick-off nears, recalling an incident involving Brett Morris that saw the winger narrowly avoid injury after crashing into a billboard while scoring a try in the 2013 World Cup.
“The in-goals are tiny,” Gallen told the Telegraph.
“Hopefully they put in some soft safety barriers in front of the fence. I remember what happened to Brett Morris.
“You have to remember it's a World Cup final, so there's no self-preservation. Players will be going for it.
“Hopefully everyone will be OK. At the end of the day, players have a chance to play at one of the most special grounds in the world.”