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The best path towards NRL expansion

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Roar Pro
10th August, 2019
16

Okay, okay, let me have one more go at this, and this time I promise it’ll be a more concise, clear and attractive idea for the future of the NRL.

In this plan one team will be axed, one relocated and two added.

Usually when people write these articles they always seem to look to the Sydney team stocks and then choose which to kill off or relocate. Instead it’s the Gold Coast Titans’ now 13-year unsuccessful history should come to a close.

Their crowd numbers are much below standard even though ridiculously cheap ticketing deals have been offered. They’ve also had problems with their finances as well as their on-field results, making the finals only three times. The Gold Coast is a place for holidays and enjoyment, not an NRL team.

Unhappy Gold Coast Titans fans

(AAP Image/Dan Peled)

The Titans can then be replaced by a new Queensland team with the potential and support to go much further and be more successful than the Titans have been. This side should come from the western corridor and Ipswich region of Brisbane. There is much support for the sport in that area as well as high levels of population growth projected for coming years.

Next we move to Sydney to attempt to slightly increase clubs’ markets for fans. The club that that should be moved away is the Sharks. The’re seemingly the obvious choice given their relatively small supporter base and poor crowds considering the area of Sydney they occupy in the south-east. The Sharks could become the Perth Sharks, playing at Optus Stadium or HBF Park. Relocation seems best here because it preserves the Sharks’ history, whereas preserving the Gold Coast isn’t as large a priority.

The Roosters would be prime candidates to go also, but they seem too influential in the competition given their recent results.

So without actually changing the number of the teams in the competition, we’ve already added two new locations to the league. Not bad, hey?

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In 2022 the NRL look likely to add two more teams to the competition. We’ve already covered the two major candidates of Perth and Brisbane, so what next?

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A team in Wellington would be great for the continual growth of New Zealand rugby league as well to provide the Warriors with a new rivalry. It would also hopefully provide competition to rugby in the country.

Although this may be a controversial selection, I believe the Cairns and Papua New Guinea bid thrown up last year was a great idea. Papua New Guinea has proven with their World Cup and Queensland Cup success that the people have great pride, belief and support in the sport. The other half of the bid, Cairns, has accommodated a host of sports in the past few years, including rugby league. I have no doubt the residents of Cairns would get behind their own team if it were based there.

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And that isn’t all. The NRL can still add support without moving anyone anywhere.

In every draw the NRL would force every Sydney team to take two of their home games away to other venues that don’t get any rugby league. Every other non-Sydney team would be forced to take only one away, including even the Broncos. This makes a total of 26 games moved among the now 18 teams that would be spread tactically across venues unused by rugby league in the NRL.

Areas like Adelaide might be given more games than regional areas because of population differences. These, for example, could include Adelaide, Dunedin, Darwin, Hobart, Alice Springs as well as regional areas of New South Wales and Queensland. Of course this strategy could also be implemented before the expansion period in 2022.

What are your views on this? Comment below with your opinions.