Eels and Tigers fight for best of the west
Bankwest Stadium belongs to the Parramatta Eels - and on Monday, they aim to prove it.
Rugby league begins a bold, new era this evening when western Sydney's new $360 million colosseum opens with an Easter Monday blockbuster between Parramatta and Wests Tigers.
Already, all 30,000 seats have been sold.
Better, senior Eels players are vowing to use the historic showdown to prove themselves true owners of a venue which, in the heart of Parramatta, will boasts an eclectic range of tenants including the Tigers, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Western Sydney Wanderers and, potentially, UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker.
Elsewhere, the game also doubles as a showdown between a pair of close mates, and former housemates, in Eels halfback Mitchell Moses and Tigers No.7 Luke Brooks.
Once Holy Cross Ryde prodigies, and then members of the Wests Tigers 'Big Four', the duo now find themselves squaring off in a battle for eternal bragging rights as the first ever NRL side to triumph at Bankwest Stadium.
Quizzed on the new venue, which mixes suburban charm with new age technology, Moses said: "I grew up in Parramatta, around the corner from what is now Bankwest Stadium.
"It blows my mind just looking at it.
"Not just as a player but a sports fan in general.
"The buzz around this stadium had been building during the construction, but experiencing it last week at our open training session was next level. It's an amazing venue that the people of Western Sydney are already proud of."
While the Tigers are officially the away team tonight, Brooks agreed that bragging rights were on offer in the historic opener.
The Tigers will also play four home games at Bankwest Stadium in 2019.
"And we want to make the place a Tigers fortress whenever we play here," he said.
"As players, we're pumped about Monday's game.
"The atmosphere is going to be electric with 30,000 fans right on top of the action.
"There is probably not going to be any better live sports experience in the country than games at Bankwest Stadium."
Hailed Australia's greatest rectangular stadium, the new Parramatta arena not only boasts of having every seat under covering, but also the country's steepest upper stand, which at 34° puts fans right on top of the action.
Better, the venue keeps the feel of a suburban ground with a sell out of 30,000.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said Bankwest Stadium would bring "huge benefits" for the code.
With the Easter Monday clash already a guaranteed sell out, fans are being encouraged to take advantage of public transport (trains and buses) which is included in all tickets and club memberships.