NRL boss Andrew Abdo says it won’t force the introduction of a 17th club if the numbers don’t stack up once the process is finalised by July.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo won’t rush to include another team in Brisbane in 2023 if the numbers don’t stack up over the next few months.
Stressing the need for proof of “incremental value”, the chief executive is comforted by what he’s seen from the three leading bids but will meet with them again soon before a call is made by July.
Redcliffe, a combined Brisbane Bombers-Ipswich Jets bid and the Easts Tigers-backed Brisbane Firehawks are vying to become the Broncos’ cross-town rivals as the NRL’s 17th team.
ARL Commission boss Peter V’landys has been bullish in his pursuit of a 17th team while Abdo has even flagged an 18th team in New Zealand to follow.
There are claims another team in Brisbane would be worth $50 million to the code but Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher has fears about saturating the market and wants to see proof before investing.
Abdo says that won’t be far off.
“We’ve been working towards a June-July decision point for 2023 and I’m confident from what I’ve seen today on the readiness of all three interested parties here locally,” he said at Brisbane’s Magic Round launch on Tuesday.
“But it’s not something that has to be rushed; if the business case says we need a bit more time, then we need a bit more time.
“We’ll do a thorough analysis and that will allow the (ARL) Commission to make an informed decision to do it for the right reasons.
“I’m confident we can get there along that timeline but I don’t know at this stage if it will create incremental value.
“It’s a complex question to answer and one we’re in the middle of right now.”
The chief executive also effectively shut the door on North Queensland prop Jason Taumalolo’s hopes of playing for Queensland despite having spent his formative years playing for New Zealand.
He said the NRL were pushing to create an international window to avoid the collision of club, state or country commitments, but that changes to State of Origin eligibility rules were not on the agenda.
Tuesday was Abdo’s first trip to Brisbane in about a year – and first as boss after replacing Todd Greenberg – after COVID-19 played havoc with last season’s fixtures.
He’s confident the NRL will be able to adapt if the situation changed again before mid-May, when all 16 teams will play at Suncorp Stadium across three days.
As it stands, teams will fly in the day before their game and leave either that night or the next morning, depending on their fixture’s time slot.
“There are always concerns 24 hours a day, such is the world we live in,” he said of fears of any last-minute COVID-19 curveballs.
“We’ll be prepared and ready for any scenario but at this stage things look really good.”