Sydney Roosters co-captain Jake Friend on the hallowed turf of Allianz Stadium. Picture: Toby Zerna
Sydney Roosters co-captain Jake Friend on the hallowed turf of Allianz Stadium. Picture: Toby Zerna

‘We slept on it’: Robinson’s Roosters feel close to Allianz

SYDNEY Roosters coach Trent Robinson's most vivid memory of Allianz Stadium is when a ground announcer reported the death of Princess Diana midway through a game in 1997.

The NRL community will on Saturday night bid farewell to what  was once considered the home of rugby league, when the Roosters face arch rivals South Sydney in their preliminary final.

The Moore Park venue will undergo a knockdown and rebuild after the match.

Robinson said the players had touched on the significance of the occasion during the week, and he recalled some memories of his own ahead of the blockbuster clash.

"I was lucky enough to come and play at the Roosters and play here as a kid coming through the Roosters system," Robinson said.

"I remember (the death of) Princess Di getting announced over Allianz Stadium in 1997 in the middle of a reserve-grade game. I've never seen a stadium in shock during that time.

"The Monday night games, when they got brought in, in the late '90s, were big games here. Anzac Days, finals games, there's been some special moments here."

He also mentioned some club functions held at the venue for family and friends, including a sleepover in the pre-season this year. That night the players enjoyed a history lesson on the big screen.

"It's our home. We wanted to experience it more," Robinson said.

"It was a sleeping bags out on the stadium. We had movie night, a bit of the history of the Roosters on the ground, some special stuff."

The Roosters are aiming to celebrate the knockdown of their home ground by ending a run of three straight preliminary final defeats in the past four years, including last year.

The winner of Saturday night's game will face defending premiers Melbourne in the decider at ANZ Stadium next Sunday.

Robinson insisted the team was different to those of previous seasons, suggesting marquee signings Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco could hold the key against the Rabbitohs.

"We're a different squad. I think people can say that, people can feel that," he said.

"Also, that's what experiences are about - learning, growing and delivering the next time. That's what we plan to do."