The NFL were the first ones to implement the use of such turf on their grounds, with the Widnes Vikings from the ESL the first top-flight rugby league club to do so – and now, the Manly Sea Eagles want to introduce synthetic turf on their home ground, Brookvale Oval.
Michael Regan, who is the Warringah Council Mayor, said that the plan is to fast-track a $1 million synthetic playing surface, at Brookvale Oval.
In a sign that Manly want this implemented as quickly as possible, Regan has already spoken with NRL Chairman John Grant, Manly Chairman Scott Penn, as well as development officials from the New South Wales Rugby League.
“It makes sense,” Mayor Regan said.
The move comes in light of one of the sprinklers underneath the Brookvale Oval ground, becoming exposed, which is an immediate concern for the safety and well-being of NRL players.
“At the moment Brookvale can only be used 15 hours a week to keep it to NRL standards – that’s crazy,” Regan said. “I think the people in charge need to embrace the change – if the technology is there, let’s use it.
“With the state government looking at the Melbourne Stadia strategy, grounds like Brookvale are under threat.
“If synthetic means we can have the best possible surface available for 60 hours a week, Brookie becomes a sustainable financial model for the local council. You could play junior and senior games there, as well as school matches.”
With concerns that the artificial turf would injure players in some way, Regan denied that that would be the case.
“It would be the latest technology so that would be eliminated,” he said. “In fact, some might argue that playing on grass would be worse.
“It would be purely psychological for the players.
“It would be unbelievable and we have got the money to do it at Brookvale.
“It also would give us a reason to continue to invest into Brookvale Oval. Over time it would pay itself off and be used commercially and for the community.”
The NRL would take some convincing however, with the NRL’s Director of Football Operations Nathan McGuirk, saying that there would be reservations about implementing a synthetic track in the NRL.
“Synthetic ovals have benefits for junior sport but at elite level with the elite players, we would have some reservations at this stage about approving any change,” he said.