WIN a loser come semis time

IF they snare a home final, the Dragons won't switch to Aussie Stadium but they won't necessarily play at WIN Stadium.

It was thought St George Illawarra would play in Wollongong if they leapfrogged Penrith into fourth spot in the closing month of the regular season because their other home venue, Oki Jubilee Stadium, lacks permanent lighting.

The fourth versus fifth play-off will be held on the Friday night of September 10.

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust yesterday ruled out a return to the larger, but neutral, Aussie Stadium.

Doust said the club was waiting to hear from theNational Rugby League about requirements for finals venues and whether the premiership administration would pay for temporary lights at Oki Jubilee Stadium.

"We are contemplating the issue. We've been awaiting some determinations from the NRL about the criteria for home semi-finals," he said.

Doust said corporate facilities, food and beverage profits, and other commercial issues were also factors.

The joint venture board will discuss the matter this month.

And of course, as Doust pointed out, it will only be on the agenda if the Panthers drop a game and the Dragons are successful in their final three games before the bye in round 26.

One of the main topics at yesterday's chief executives conference was the possible inclusion of a 16th team in 2006 and Doust said the Dragons didn't necessarily oppose the introduction of a new club.

Unlike the Wests Tigers - the competition's only other joint venture outfit - the Dragons believe expansion could be beneficial.

"We don't want the inclusion of the 16th team to impact the positives in the game and the revenue streams we (the clubs) require, particularly in the context of the gaming tax," Doust said.

"If those things are considered, I think the arguments for the three proponents (Gold Coast, Wellington and Central Coast) are quite, you might say, compelling."

Doust said the club would prefer to see Gold Coast get the green light but stressed it was up to the NRL partnership to make the decision after reviewing all the information.

Copyright ? 2004 Illawarra Mercury