Asbestos Discovery Puts Manly's Home NRL Final At Risk
Playing a home semi-final is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often, says Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans, and it’s an advantage his club is in danger of losing after asbestos was found at their Brookvale ground.
“It’s not ideal, it’s not,” Cherry-Evans told reporters at the NRL Finals Series launch on Monday.
“We’re just crossing our fingers and hoping that it gets clear for Saturday."
"It's not the end of the world...but when given the opportunity to play at Lottoland we're hoping to take advantage of that."
The Sea Eagles come-from-behind season saw them secure their first home final in 12 years, which was set to be played against the Cronulla Sharks on this weekend at Lottoland.
However, asbestos was found at the ground on Thursday as builders tested the soil ahead of the construction of a Centre for Excellence at Brookvale Oval, forcing the NRL to consider a venue-change.
“This is a professional sporting franchise, we’re not putting anyone’s safety at risk,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
The Northern Beaches Council, together with the Sea Eagles, has 24 hours to prove the venue is safe or it will move the semi-final to Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Greenberg added.
“They need to satisfy us that it’s safe, if they do that we’ll play there. If they don’t, it’s simple we’ll play at Bankwest," he said.
Northern Beaches Council, which owns and operates the ground, said that it had brought in environmental engineers to provide recommendations.
The council’s preliminary report suggests there is “no unacceptable risk to public health” and “no risk of contamination on the playing surface”.
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Final environmental investigations were being carried out on Monday ahead of their 6pm deadline, imposed by the NRL.
Though, it already advised the league that the small site can be “effectively contained and made safe for next weekend’s game”.
"The expert advice received from the engineers today indicates that based on their preliminary assessment, there is no unacceptable risk to public health," council CEO Ray Brownlee said.
“There is no reason the scheduled semi-final at Brookvale Oval cannot go ahead."
Ticket sales for the match against Cronulla have been put on hold.
The news comes after security at the venue was called into question last week, when a fan became involved in a mid-tunnel incident with Melbourne centre Will Chambers.
The NRL had initially threatened to review the ground's hosting rights for the finals, before later saying any concerns had been cleared.
The league is only returning to home suburban finals this year for the first time since 2010, due to the rebuild of Allianz Stadium.
Lottoland is the only suburban ground due to host a finals match, with the others scheduled to be played at the SCG, AAMI Park and Bankwest Stadium.