Wests Tigers have taken aim at fellow Bankwest Stadium tenants Parramatta on the eve of the venue's opening, saying the $360 million facility belongs to the people of western Sydney, not just the Eels.
"The last time I checked the stadium was built by the state government for the people of western Sydney, including their teams the Wests Tigers, Bulldogs, Western Sydney Wanderers … and Parra," acting Tigers chief executive Simon Cook said after being forced to digest a week-long media blitz about the Eels' new stadium. "We know Parramatta have been nomads the last two years, but it's disappointing the way they have carried on about the new stadium being theirs.
Home: Eels players Reed Mahoney and Dylan Brown at Bankwest Stadium.Credit:James Brickwood
"We can't wait to play our five games at our new home, including next Monday when it's hosted by our co-tenants.
"What a wonderful sight it will be when our new ground is lit up in black, white and orange for our first home game against Canberra in round 13."
The Tigers have committed to playing four games at the venue this year, as well four next year. They remain committed to playing games at their spiritual homes in Leichhardt and Campbelltown.
It is understood the joint venture is inspecting clubhouses in the Parramatta area so their supporters will not have to celebrate at the neighbouring Parramatta Leagues Club.
Mint condition: The new Bankwest Stadium will offer an unrivalled fan experience.
Eels chief executive Bernie Gurr proudly declared Bankwest Stadium "Parramatta turf" and made no apologies for being excited about the countdown to the historic first game on Easter Monday.
"That's been our spiritual precinct and home ground since 1947, from Cumberland Oval, Pirtek Stadium to Western Sydney Stadium to now Bankwest Stadium," Gurr said. "It's literally on the doorstep of our leagues club and it's in the middle of Parramatta.
"The reality is we've made a commitment to play 11 games a year for 15 years and with another 10-year option, which is effectively a 25-year commitment and 275 games.
"The good ol' Tigers have made a four-game commitment."
The Tigers are expected to be given access to Bankwest Stadium in the lead-up to the sold-out Easter Monday clash.
Canterbury have also committed to play one NRL game at the venue this year.
Meanwhile, Tigers coach Michael Maguire spoke about his rare celebratory outburst in the Suncorp Stadium coach's box as Michael Chee-Kam scored the winner in the final minutes against the Broncos.
Maguire jumped up and down and clapped his hands as Chee-Kam sealed the result, then said he had to live through the painful moment of watching himself on the TV replays inside the box.
"I think seeing the work the boys did the week before and then to lose in golden point, and then to see them Thursday night was pretty special,'' Maguire said. "The spine had practised setting up for the field-goal attempt, and from there we said if we don't get it, run it, and sure enough the ball went into Michael Chee-Kam. When he got through I thought, 'hang on, we've got an opportunity here'.
"I don't think I've celebrated to that extent. It's something I've learned along the way, to enjoy the moments with your players."
Playmaker Josh Reynolds copped firendly fire twice during the celebrations and quipped: "I had to do a concussion test straight after".
"I got a head high from an unknown source, got up, gave another fist-pump, then Corey Thompson came over the top and got me from behind. I laid on the floor and reminisced about the win. It was worth it," Reynolds said.
Benji Marshall remains an outside chance to return from a hamstring injury against the Eels next week, while Robbie Farah, who has been brilliant the opening five weeks, pulled up with back tightness for a second week, but will relish the 11-day turnaround and play.
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