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Manly lock Jake Trbojevic.

Finals footy is set to return to suburban grounds for the first time in almost a decade with relevant clubs to be given options on where they host week one qualifying finals.

The knockdown of Allianz Stadium and emergence of Bankwest Stadium as an elite venue has prompted the NRL to scrap its policy of Sydney finals being played at either Moore Park or ANZ Stadium, starting this season.

Not since 2010 has a suburban ground hosted a finals fixture, after thousands of fans were locked out of a sold-out Jubilee Oval when Jarryd Hayne's Parramatta carved up the Dragons a year earlier.

In recent years the edict that clubs such as the Sea Eagles, Sharks and Panthers must host finals games at Allianz Stadium or ANZ Stadium has delivered the opposite, underwhelming turnouts that the NRL now views as the greater of two evils.

Week one of the finals in 2017 drew just over 75,000 fans to four high-class games, and with Allianz Stadium not available this year, the NRL is wary of a side like Cronulla or Manly being forced to play out of the Olympic precinct.

As a result traditional venues including Lottoland (Manly), PointsBet Stadium (Cronulla), Panthers Stadium, and the home grounds of Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra will be available to home sides should they earn hosting rights in week one by finishing first, second, fifth or sixth.

Josh Dugan scores at PointsBet Stadium.
Josh Dugan scores at PointsBet Stadium. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Sydney clubs can also take games to the new Bankwest Stadium, home to the Eels, or ANZ Stadium or the SCG, where the Roosters are slated to host their home finals.

"There was an opportunity to change the way we think about the finals series venues with Allianz Stadium not available and further challenges ahead with the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium," NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

"Clearly Bankwest Stadium will be a great option for us for the finals series this year but it will also be wonderful to see the potential for our week one finals matches to return to suburban settings.

"This will be in place for the 2019 finals series. Once we have the full Sydney stadia network back online we will reassess again."

The NRL has also relaxed similar protocol regarding grand final qualifiers for Newcastle and Canberra, with both regional centres now able to host preliminary finals should either the Knights or Raiders earn the right.

Under previous rules both sides would have hosted week three fixtures at ANZ Stadium or Allianz, protocol that remains in place for Sydney sides.

Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast and the Warriors can all still host finals fixtures as per usual, while North Queensland's new stadium also now allows the Cowboys home ground advantage in week one.

The new finals policy regarding suburban grounds is expected to remain in place until at least 2022, when Allianz Stadium's rebuild is completed.

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Head office has included two caveats to a suburban ground hosting a finals fixture; that the playing surface be up to an appropriate standard, and that the home club cover the cost of any necessary infrastructure needed such as additional commentary boxes.

The move will increase scrutiny at Lottoland and the Dragons' Kogarah base Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Manly's Brookvale fortress has attracted criticism for several years now, with a pre-season game and A-League fixture shifted due to poor pitch conditions.

Six weeks ago the NRL commissioned an independent report into the Lottoland playing surface to determine if the Sea Eagles round four clash with Souths could go ahead.

That scrutiny prompted a $1.2 million investment from the Northern Beaches Council, who leases the ground to the club.

Kogarah's pitch also came under the microscope when the Dragons had to move their own pre-season trial at the 11th hour after several A-League and football fixtures placed extra strain on the playing surface.

Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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