ANZ Stadium surface to get worked on

The AFL has responded to criticism of the ANZ Stadium playing surface by insisting on some repair work to the ground before Saturday’s finals clash between Sydney and Fremantle.


Players frequently slipped over during the course of last Saturday’s clash between the Swans and Richmond, though stadium officials stressed record August rainfall had affected conditions.

The match was played just two days after an NRL game at the venue between South Sydney and Canterbury.

There are no rugby league games scheduled at the venue this week leading up to the Swans’ qualifying final with Fremantle on Saturday.

Sydney coach John Longmire revealed the AFL had acted on Monday to try to improve conditions for this weekend.

“We’ve been notified by the AFL that they are actually going to make some changes to that surface, two patches which is a good thing,” Longmire told the media on Monday.

“Obviously the people in Melbourne didn’t understand the amount of rain that was around last week and it was really wet.

“Those patches on the sidelines from the rugby league on the Thursday were soft.

“You’d like them better than that and fortunately the AFL have acknowledged that and those changes will be made this week, which is a good thing for both teams.”

In one instance late in Saturday’s game, Sydney key defender Ted Richards lost his footing, allowing Richmond’s Dustin Martin a clear run to score what turned out to be the match-winning goal.

“Teddy is certainly blaming the surface,” Longmire joked.

ANZ Stadium officials pointed to August’s record rainfall in Sydney as a factor in the state of the ground.

A retractable roof is expected to be in place at the venue by 2018, following proposed work on the venue likely to start by 2016.

“Western Sydney has experienced its wettest August in history and this obviously affected playing conditions last Saturday,” an ANZ Stadium spokesperson told AAP.

“The stadium is about to undergo a major redevelopment with plans for a retractable roof.

“It would be nice to have the ability to close the roof in future.”

The Swans are contracted to play three games a year at ANZ Stadium until 2016.

The surface conditions at the ground were also called into question after AFL games there in 2011 and 2013.

In 2011, Swans star Jude Bolton wrote to the AFL Players’ Association, noting some sections of the ground were “substandard”.