ST GEORGE Illawarra fans could be left “embarrassed” and accused of “lacking passion” if they allow Wests Tigers supporters to hijack ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
NRL officials are expecting a crowd of 65,000 to 70,000 for the NRL grand final qualifier – provided Saints fans are prepared to travel to Homebush from southern Sydney and Wollongong.
“Dragons fans don’t travel,” said Balmain great Ben Elias, taunting and teasing the Red V army.
NRL officials are aware that Wests Tigers fans will cram ANZ, but remain unsure whether Dragons supporters will attend the grudge match.
One well-placed source close to the big match was even more forthright.
“There’s no doubt Tigers fans will pack the stadium, but there’s a question mark over the so-called Dragons army,” the rugby league insider said.
“St George Illawarra have the history, but maybe the fans aren’t as passionate as those of the other big Sydney clubs.
“It would be embarrassing if the red and white were overwhelmed by black and gold on Saturday night.
“That’s the challenge for each and every Dragons fan to answer.”
Dragons fans didn’t sell out the 19,000-capacity WIN Jubilee for week one of the finals against Manly. The game attracted just 15,574 fans.
Elias and and fellow Tigers great Garry Jack are tipping Tigers fans to swamp ANZ Stadium.
“I think it will be close to a 2:1 ratio,” Elias said.
“Geographically we have Saints’ measure. We have Campbelltown to the west of ANZ Stadium and Balmain to the east.
“Dragons fans don’t travel.
“They certainly won’t come up from Wollongong.
“We believe we can win the premiership. We have momentum. They didn’t even sell out Kogarah for the opening finals match.”
Jack said: “There are a lot of Tigers fans out there. I think there will be more Tigers fans there than Dragons supporters. The Tigers have Balmain fans, Western Suburbs fans and Wests Tigers fans. It should be a riveting game.”