June 25, 2024

Isaiah Papali’i expressed his disappointment at the prospect of Wests Tigers being forced to leave Leichhardt Oval due to funding issues preventing necessary upgrades. Despite efforts from management and requests to divert funding, including a plea to the NSW Premier, the club and Inner West Council were unsuccessful in securing financial support. Tigers players understand they may not have a say in the decision regarding the future of hosting games at Leichhardt Oval, a beloved yet aging venue in the inner-west. CEO Shane Richardson had previously warned about the possibility of relocating games if funding requests were not met.

The potential move would signify the conclusion of Wests Tigers’ longstanding connection with the venue, which dates back to 1934 when Balmain’s first-grade games were first held there.

Despite their threat, the Tigers have not officially announced their decision regarding the future of games at Leichhardt, which came shortly after their impressive victory over Cronulla.

Isaiah Papali’i expressed his sentiments, stating that it would be disheartening if Leichhardt were no longer part of the Tigers’ history, given its rich legacy and significance in the sport.

Leichhardt currently faces challenges such as insufficient change rooms for hosting double-header matches and long queues for food and drinks during NRL games.

New recruit Jayden Sullivan observed the strong emotional attachment Tigers fans have with Leichhardt, evident in their warm interactions and conversations after games.

While both Sullivan and Papali’i are open to playing at any venue, they acknowledge that the decision rests with the club management, and they have little influence over it.

The Tigers are scheduled to play five home games at Campbelltown Stadium this year, and there are discussions about using CommBank and Accor Stadiums for future fixtures starting in 2025 if Leichhardt is no longer an option.

Wests Tigers players understand why the fans love Leichhardt Oval. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

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