Rugby Park deserves to be fixed: de Groot

All Black, Highlander and proud Southlander Ethan de Groot has a simple message for Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark: sort it out, mate.

De Groot, the All Black first choice loosehead prop, grew up in Gore and Invercargill, and spent many afternoons supporting the Southland team at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

But with the park facing issues around mould and weather tightness, its future appears cloudy.

De Groot said last week it was sad to hear of the troubles at the park.

"It’s disappointing. I love Rugby Park. I wave the flag hard for the South, and there’s no Southland without Rugby Park. It would be a shame if they let it go to waste," he said.

"I want to get Highlanders games down there. That’s what Southland fans deserve. We’ve got to have a place to play footy."

Mayor Nobby Clark seemed to be out of touch with those who went to the park, he said.

"Obviously he’s not the one sitting in the terraces watching the games, is he? I don’t know what else to say, other than sort it out, mate. Fix the stadium.

"I think they should just fix Rugby Park, and that’s where they play rugby. Mate, you can’t change the Stags’ home. It’s a staple. We love it there."

His earliest memory of being at the park was sliding down the hill in the mud near the terraces.

The park had hosted games such as the British Lions playing Southland and also some mighty Ranfurly Shield challenges. It has had a patchy relationship with the Highlanders, who have played in Invercargill on and off over the past 28 years.

The ground hosted two World Cup matches in 2011.