NRL to assess finals promotion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL to assess finals promotion

David Beniuk 22/09/2011 07:29:17 PM Comments (0)

The NRL will "assess" the efforts of clubs in promoting the finals series, with crowds for this weekend's play-offs set to plummet in comparison to recent years.

Around 23,000 tickets have been sold to each of the weekend's preliminary finals, which the league was forced to host at smaller venues the Sydney Football Stadium and AAMI Park.

The projected crowds will pale into insignificance with those of the past two years, when ANZ Stadium hosted more than 70,000 fans in the second last week of the season.

In 2009, Canterbury and Parramatta drew 74,549 to the Olympic stadium, while 71,212 attended the St George Illawarra versus Wests Tigers clash last year.

In 2010, another 44,789 turned up for the Sydney Roosters versus Gold Coast match at Suncorp Stadium, while 27,687 were at Etihad Stadium for the 2009 preliminary final between Melbourne and Brisbane.

The concerning figures come at a time when many in the game are disappointed at some clubs' reluctance to allow media opportunities to promote the series.

While Brisbane flew to Sydney midweek and hosted media sessions every day, including match day on Friday, Manly advertised just one opportunity and shielded star players from the spotlight.

NRL guidelines stipulate that each club must hold three media sessions per week.

"It can be difficult to balance the pressure of preparing for the final against the access the media need to promote the game and that is something we look to assess at the end of each year," NRL director of media and communications John Brady said in a statement to AAP.

The Sea Eagles pulled a disappointing crowd of just 13,972 to the SFS for their qualifying final against North Queensland two weeks ago.

The traditional reluctance of Manly fans to cross the Harbour Bridge is being tackled with a fleet of no fewer than 18 buses to ferry fans free of charge to Friday night's preliminary final against Brisbane.

"We are certainly doing all we can to assist fans in getting to the game," Brady said.

"It's too early to determine just where the numbers will finish this week and particularly Manly fans have a real opportunity to get behind their team on Friday night.

"At this stage the match is tracking ahead of last week's match between the Wests Tigers and the Warriors (which drew 27,109)."

The AAMI Park clash between Melbourne and the Warriors faces the additional challenge of an All Blacks Rugby World Cup match overlapping on live television.

The AFL expects crowds of 80,000 and 70,000 for its Collingwood-Hawthorn and Geelong-West Coast finals respectively.

Manly's shuttles run along the northern beaches from Warriewood from 3.50pm on Friday, direct to the SFS every 15 minutes until 6.05pm, but officials are advising patrons to use the earlier services.

Two more services depart Dee Why at 6.20pm and 6.30pm.

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