Women’s World Cup delays Wests Tigers’ suburban shift

Wests Tigers' plans for more Leichhardt Oval games have been affected by the FIFA Womens World Cup.

Wests Tigers' plans for more Leichhardt Oval games have been affected by the FIFA Womens World Cup. Photo: AAP

Wests Tigers’ planned move home to Campbelltown and Leichhardt has been pushed back a year by the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with the joint venture to play just three games at each venue again next season.

The Tigers had hoped to return more NRL games to their traditional bases next year, with an eye to moving out of CommBank Stadium and playing all Sydney home games at their two suburban grounds.

At the time, chairman Lee Hagipantelis said his club had become “nomads” and that having five home grounds was “not feasible or practical”.

However, little will now change for next season, with Campbelltown and Leichhardt to host the same amount of games as 2022 with three at each, and CommBank Stadium to host just as many.

It can also be revealed the club will also take one match to New Zealand and another to Tamworth, while the Tigers traditionally host a “home match” at Magic Round in Brisbane.

The altered schedule is due to the Women’s World Cup, with both Leichhardt and Campbelltown options for teams’ base camps and therefore unavailable during the July-August tournament.

The Tigers have therefore signed a short-term deal to stay at CommBank, before eyeing the planned Campbelltown-Leichhardt strategy from 2024.

“That (allocation for 2023) is because of the interruption caused by the World Cup, otherwise it would not have been the case,” Hagipantelis told AAP.

“We have said we want to return to our historical roots at Campbelltown and Leichhardt.”

The Tigers are one of several clubs to be impacted by the World Cup.

The NRL are still wrestling with trying to complete next year’s draw, with Accor Stadium, Allianz Stadium, Suncorp Stadium and AAMI Park all in use.

Kogarah will also be used as a training base, meaning St George Illawarra will have to structure their games at the venue around that while using Wollongong during the World Cup.

Another option for the NRL could be to play double-headers at venues such as CommBank.

Brisbane have already confirmed they will use the Gabba for three home games.

The Tigers’ news comes as Leichhardt’s future continues to be a point of contention, after the NSW Government’s stadia stoush with the NRL over funding for suburban grounds being postponed.

There had been fears the club could be forced away from the ground, but Hagipantelis is adamant that would not be at the Tigers’ choosing.

“There was a suggestion we may not be able to play there, but the Wests Tigers will never voluntarily abandon Leichhardt,” Hagipantelis said.

“A decision on whether we can play there will ultimately be made by the local council and NRL on whether it meets NRL standards.

“As long as it meets NRL standards, the Wests Tigers will continue to play there.”

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