NRL: Rapira questions Eden Park move

By Michael Brown

Sam Rapira would rather be playing the Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Rapira would rather be playing the Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday. Photo / Getty Images

The level of discontent within the Warriors continues to bubble, with prop Sam Rapira questioning the club's desire to move to Eden Park.

The Warriors won't play at Mt Smart Stadium, their spiritual home, until round 12 when they tackle the Knights there on June 1.

Overcoming the travel factor has been a challenge throughout the Warriors' history and there is a feeling inside the camp it is being exacerbated this season by playing at Eden Park. They have never won an NRL game at the venue, and are due to take on the Bulldogs there on Sunday, and the Kiwis also haven't won there.

"Atmosphere, everything else, it's just here,'' Rapira told RadioSport at Mt Smart Stadium yesterday. "And all the long-time supporters have only been here and it has been a bit of a change. I think I'd rather be here.''

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah has come under considerable pressure in light of Matt Elliott's sacking as coach yesterday.

Many fans are upset at his handling of the club and co-owner Eric Watson has put everyone on notice.

"2014 is the year for accountability & performance at all levels of the @NZWarriors & rest assured I believe the buck stops with the owners,'' Watson said on Twitter.

The Warriors seem destined to relocate to Eden Park, and are testing its viability this season by playing three games instead of the one they have done over the past three years. The Auckland City Council want the Warriors to move to Eden Park, which would host all big rugby, rugby league and football matches.

The cost of upgrading Mt Smart Stadium has been estimated at $60 million and, instead, it's being touted as the new home for speedway. The Warriors' contract with Mt Smart expires in 2018 and they want to eventually base themselves at one venue.

"We are stuck between a rock and a hard place,'' Scurrah said. "We have got a venue [Eden Park] that is largely unused... and have got one [Mt Smart] here that there is no council support to bring up to the standard the [NRL] demand.''

The Warriors are giving away 3000 tickets to Auckland clubs for Sunday's game against the Bulldogs and are also offering five tickets for $50 - a standard ticket costs $30.

They averaged around 30,000 for their first three games at Eden Park - they were the top three crowds in the club's history - but attracted 14,392 against the Dragons last month, although the match was marred by Cyclone Lusi.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 29 Nov 2014 03:44:45 Processing Time: 569ms