NRL ready to pounce if Force axed


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    The boss of rugby league in Western Australia says if the Western Force are cut from the Super Rugby competition, it would add further weight to the state’s long-term NRL bid.

    Governing body SANZAAR confirmed on Sunday the 18-team Super Rugby competition would be cut to 15 for next season, with one Australian team set to go.

    That Force were originally tipped to be that team, however they now appear to be vying head-to-head with the Melbourne Rebels to be the fourth Australian franchise.

    Meanwhile, in the 13-man game, Western Australian officials have been pushing for the NRL to return to the state since the Western Reds’ stint between 1995 and 1997.

    NRLWA’s chief executive John Sackson, is sympathetic of the Force’s plight, but says the absence of any fully-professional rugby side in Perth should help open the door for the Australian Rugby League Commission.

    “It’s something for them to consider,” Sackson said.

    “It would make Perth an even more attractive proposition because of the opportunities that would exist.”

    Sackson is understanding of the fact expansion is off the table at the NRL, and is unlikely to be considered until the end of the current TV deal in 2022.

    Perth and another Queensland team are considered the front-runners, while a second New Zealand team would also be an option.

    There are 3,600 registered players in Western Australia, and last year five of the West Coast Pirate’s SG Ball juniors debuted in the NRL’s under-20s competition in round one.

    They have also lost a number of promising juniors – including Force players Curtis Rona and Chance Peni – to the 15-man game as an easier path to professional sport arrived.

    But Sackson predicted that if the Force were to be wound up, and a local NRL team entered, it would be able to claim the state’s best athletes.

    “The talented kids out of the rugby codes want to pursue a career,” he said.

    “That option now exists with the Force, and it could come back the other way.”

    The Kangaroos played their first Test in Perth last year, and the second game of the 2019 State of Origin series is locked in for the state’s new 65,000-seat stadium.

    Annual NRL matches at nib Stadium have topped 20,000 in three of the past six visits, and Sackson believes a team would have 10,000 members in their first season.

    Crucially he believes even more fans would get behind a new side.

    “I don’t think there are a lot of Western Force fans who go to NRL games, and I don’t think there are a lot of rugby league fans who go to Western Force games,” Sackson said.

    “But if rugby was to part ways Western Australia those rugby fans wouldn’t have an option in terms of rugby codes.

    “They’re more likely to go to rugby league than the other two football codes.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (166)

    • April 10th 2017 @ 7:36am
      soapit said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      not exactly ready to pounce tho.

      • April 10th 2017 @ 7:49am
        Jeff dustby said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

        Agree, total speculation

    • April 10th 2017 @ 7:51am
      jamesb said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      This is a nothing article.

    • April 10th 2017 @ 8:18am
      AR said | April 10th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      “Ready to pounce”…after 2022 at the very earliest, when the ARLC starts to talk about whether it will expand the NRL competition at all.

    • April 10th 2017 @ 9:10am
      andrew said | April 10th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      They can only be ready to pounce if they have an agreement with an existing Sydney side to relocate or relocate half of their home games to Perth. otherwise it is just a journo ringing the WA Rugby league and asking an obvious question.

    • April 10th 2017 @ 10:04am
      Big Daddy said | April 10th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Isn’t the failure if the force proof enough that rugby league would not succeed in WA.
      Has any body really thought how much it would cost to set up a rugby league franchise in Perth.
      The NRL would want millions and then it would cost at least $15 mill a year to run
      Then you have to convince 25-30 players to commit to living there.
      All this when we have established clubs who are owned by NRL because of financial instability.
      I really don’t think so.

      • Roar Guru

        April 10th 2017 @ 10:27am
        Dogs Of War said | April 10th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        The failings for the Force were around the lack of highly skilled players available for all the franchises in Australia. They were just starting to get loads of juniors coming through the system, and really the ARU has been very short sighted in there decision as they will lose those guys coming through.

        The NRL could easily fill the void, and also gather the fruits of the ARU’s labour by getting a team over there. Even if in the short term we expand the presence over there by organising more games to be played in Perth.

        • Roar Rookie

          April 10th 2017 @ 12:31pm
          William Dalton Davis said | April 10th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          It’s also been widely reported that the only reason the force may be getting the axe ahead of the rebels is that the rebels are privately owned and the owner has threatened to sue the ARU for money they simply don’t have. Cutting the force will simply be the easier route.

          • Roar Guru

            April 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            Epiquin said | April 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            It’s also my understanding that the ARU owns the Force, so culling them is easier and means they will save a bundle in travel costs.

      • April 10th 2017 @ 11:33am
        Flea said | April 10th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        I’m not sure the Force’s failure is much of an indication really. Union is dead in Australia. I’m sure a Perth team would do better than at least a few of the 9 clubs in Sydney.

        • April 10th 2017 @ 5:01pm
          Mathew Stealer said | April 10th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

          And Rugby Union doesnt exist outside of QLD and parts of NSW Flea. Go on lets see them try put this team in. Ill bring the popcorn

          • April 10th 2017 @ 7:11pm
            Crosscoder said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

            You’re easily entertained.Now an expert on rl in WA LOL.

          • April 10th 2017 @ 7:15pm
            Justin Kearney said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

            Your ignorance of all things rugby union and league is limitless.

            • April 10th 2017 @ 7:18pm
              Mathew Stealer said | April 10th 2017 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

              Hang on Justin, it was only a few days ago i was a Union supporter then i was an AFL supporter then im back to a Union supporter. Now i dont have a clue about Union.
              What else mate

              • April 11th 2017 @ 6:38am
                Justin Kearney said | April 11th 2017 @ 6:38am | ! Report

                Getting a bit hysterical now matthew. What on earth are you talking about?

          • April 11th 2017 @ 10:54am
            Flea said | April 11th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

            Do you mean Rugby League?

            The NRL could do what they’ve done with the Storm. Pretty successful club.

    • April 10th 2017 @ 10:22am
      Brian S said | April 10th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

      It sounds like most people here have there head buried in the sand! but i don’t think there sandgropers;):)

      Perth is the next logical place for a RL team, it’s another timezone to play games in & should be good for TV!
      If the NRL doesn’t get proactive here it will lose out big time in the end!!

      • April 10th 2017 @ 12:44pm
        mushi said | April 10th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Just a query why would it be so good for TV, the key markets for TV are still going to be the east coast and they are pretty much saturated with league in “prime” slots.

        I’d think it would create a kind of nothing later slot.

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