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Nostalgic Johns and Fittler endorse future North Sydney Oval NRL matches

Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler believe that North Sydney Oval should host more first grade matches in the future after it was announced the Sydney Roosters will play an NRL game there this year.

A scheduling issue forced the Roosters to move their Round 16 game against the Warriors to the historic ground to be played after a North Sydney Bears Canterbury Cup NSW game in July.

Names like John Sutton, Stacey Jones, Manu Vatuvei and even 2009/10 Contender Boxing Series winner Garth Wood played in the last top-grade match at the ground back in 2005 when the Warriors defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs in front of 6,195 people.

Johns, who played four first grade matches at the ground, was feeling nostalgic about the picturesque backdrop of the stadium when declaring more games need to be played there for family reasons.

“When you’re lining up kicks, you’re lining up with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge,” Johns said on Freddy and the Eighth.

“The North Shore area, there’s no [NRL] team around there and the North Sydney Bears can jump on board and take their next generation.

“[It’s been] 15 years since there’s been a game there so a lot of those supporters have got kids now who are probably in their middle teens. It’s a great opportunity for fathers and sons and daughters.”

“It’s a great move, I think it will be a sell-out…they played the women’s Origin there last year and there was a massive crowd so it’s a great move by the Roosters.”

The women's State of Origin has been a huge success at North Sydney Oval.
The women's State of Origin has been a huge success at North Sydney Oval. ©NRL Photos

Fittler, who played three games at North Sydney Oval, has fond memories of Andrew Walker tearing up the Bears in 1999 on the tough, slippery surface.

He has the same stance as Johns, that future games should be played there given the demographic change in the area.

“The dynamics of North Sydney has changed a little bit there was a time there when it was pretty much just offices, but now they get a lot more residential people,” Fittler said.

“People live there so a little bit more life on weekends, so that’s somewhere we should be aiming to put more games.

“My best memory I played in a game against North Sydney and Andrew Walker just had one of those games… once the middle of the field gets hard it also get slippery because there’s just no grass on it but he had this game where he just tore them apart.

“He was the only bloke on the field that had footing across the pitch.”

The Roosters v Warriors clash will be the 786th first grade match at North Sydney Oval, dating back to 1910 when the Bears defeated Glebe 13-9.

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