Already under scrutiny, Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium is about to cop a pounding with at least 14 NRL and A-League games to be played on the suspect surface in the next month alone.
Parramatta star Michael Jennings admits it’s “not ideal” that the NRL table-toppers will have to share their home ground with as many as 13 different clubs across the two football codes.
Wednesday’s release of the revised A-League draw has 11 matches scheduled at the venue between Friday and August 15, including two double-headers and two other fixtures taking place less than 24 hours after the previous one.
Throw in South Sydney’s “hosting” of Newcastle on Saturday night and the Eels’ clash with Wests Tigers next week and that’s 13 games set for Bankwest Stadium in 28 days.
That’s not including Parramatta’s round-14 game against St George Illawarra on August 9, which the Eels are almost certain to play at home despite the NRL yet to confirm.
And given the Tigers, Canterbury, Sydney Roosters and Cronulla have also all used Bankwest for home games on multiple occasions this year, there’s every chance the Sharks will look to entertain the Eels there on August 9 and Gold Coast Titans the following week.
In total, 17 NRL matches have been staged at the sought-after state-of-the-art stadium in seven weeks since the competition resumed from the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.
But going from an average of two-and-a-bit games a week to at least one every two days is serious foot traffic that the Eels are less than thrilled about.
The pitch had to be re-laid last month after Roosters pair Victor Radley and Sam Verrills both suffered season-ending knee injuries in the same game against the Dragons.
All the Eels can do, though, is put up with extra workload their beloved surface has to cope with as a glut of clubs from interstate and even New Zealand converge on Bankwest during the challenges of COVID-19.
“Ideally we’d want to be the only team playing on Bankwest,” Jennings said on Wednesday.
“The circumstances, we’re just going to have to deal with it. It probably is going to get ripped up with a lot of teams playing on it, especially the A-League now and we just have to deal with what we’ve been dealt.”
NRL AND A-LEAGUE GAMES SCHEDULED FOR THE STADIUM OVER THE NEXT MONTH
July 18: South Sydney v Newcastle (NRL)
July 22: Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix (A-League)
July 23: Parramatta v Wests Tigers (NRL)
July 25: Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United plus Melbourne Victory v Melbourne United (A-League double-header)
July 29: Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar (A-League)
July 30: Adelaide United v Perth Glory (A-League)
July 31: Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix (A-League)
August 4: Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar (A-League)
August 5: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar (A-League)
August 12: Perth Glory v Western United plus Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory (A-League double-header)
*August 14: Parramatta v St George Illawarra (NRL) – TBC
August 15: Sydney FC v Western United FC (A-League)