Huge NRL shake-up is closer than ever
NRL boss Peter V'landys says the league is moving ahead with expansion plans as it aims to introduce a second Queensland team into the competition by 2023.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the ARL Commission will make a call in June about adding a 17th team into the mix, with a new club in Brisbane the frontrunner to share the market with the Broncos.
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"It's very realistic to say that we'll have a second team in Brisbane in 2023," ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys told the Herald. "From what I've seen and the presentations that have been given to me, they are well advanced.
"The one thing that I am impressed with is how advanced these bids are. They are not mucking around. They are serious. If we came to a decision in June this year, that would give them a year-and-a-half. It's plenty of time. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen mid-this year.
"I'm not going to do it if it's going to hurt the game. It's got to benefit the game."
V'landys said the NRL would not expand to Brisbane if it thought the market would be crowded and existing Queensland teams the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans would be hurt by the move. But the most powerful man in rugby league is confident a new team will only be a positive addition.
The last time the competition was expanded was when the Titans were introduced in 2007, and earlier this month NRL CEO Andrew Abdo hinted a new team was being strongly considered.
"It's not off the table, it's very much in consideration," Abdo told Triple M. "The commission and the commission chair are very determined to make sure the game continues to grow. We need to look at the business case for having more clubs.
"A 17th club has been spoken about, the analysis of what that might look like having a club in Brisbane. It's part of a long-term consideration for growth.
"It's very much at the top of the mind for the commission."
Among the bids in contention for an NRL berth are the Brisbane Bombers, Redcliffe Dolphins, Brisbane Firehawks (Easts Tigers) and Ipswich.
V'landys said former Queensland government minister Kate Jones' presence on the ARL Commission was a major boost for the league's bid to introduce a second Brisbane team.
"Participation to us is everything. One of the reasons we want the team in Brisbane is because of participation. I want to expand because of participation," V'landys said.
Originally published as Huge NRL shake-up is closer than ever