Written by John Davidson
Expansion is on the agenda for the NRL and Brisbane is the best location for a new side.
Why is the Queensland capital a better spot than say Perth, Adelaide or Wellington? There are a number of reasons why Brisvegas should be the first cab of the rank when it comes to expanding the NRL. The population of the city is booming. Currently, there are around 2.4 million there, making it number three in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne. By 2031 the population is expected to hit 3.18 million, and the city can surely support more than just the Broncos. If Sydney can support eight and a half clubs, with the Dragons based in Wollongong half the time, then Brisbane can definitely fit two.
Queensland is a rugby league hotbed and Brisbane it’s beating heart. Suncorp Stadium is tailor-made for footy, perhaps the best sports stadium in Australia. It’s criminal that rugby league is only played there once a fortnight. A new Brisbane team wouldn’t need to build a stadium but has one ready to go from day one.
People seem to forget that not everyone in Brisbane is a Broncos fan. The Broncs were founded in 1988 and helped push forward the decline of the local Brisbane Rugby League Premierships. Some locals have never forgotten that and still hold a deep grudge against the Broncos. They could be lured to backing a new NRL outfit.
Others have always supported rivals NRL clubs before the Broncos were admitted in 1988. Just like in Newcastle, where many people support the likes of Souths, Parramatta and St George before the Knights came in, and continue to do so to this day. A new Brisbane NRL club could target these latent fans and potentially convert them.
There is a load of local talent that a new Brisbane side could pick up. For decades clubs like Melbourne, Manly, Canberra, the Roosters and the Bulldogs have picked off the cream of talent in Queensland. The Broncos have done a good job at sweeping up many of them, but they simply can’t have them all.
So the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk Paul Vautin, Mal Meninga and Jake Friend have all headed south. A second Brisbane NRL franchise could have stopped them from leaving their home state.
The Broncos already have an engaging derby with the North Queensland Cowboys. It’s a brilliant and engaging contest. But imagine a local inter-city derby between the Broncos and a second Brisbane side. The rivalry would be off the charts, much bigger than the Bronc vs Cowboys. It could potentially become bigger than Souths vs the Roosters or Manly vs Parramatta.
The Broncos started life as a house on fire and become of the strongest clubs, and businesses, in the competition as they collected premiership after premiership. But those days are over. The Broncos haven’t won a title since 2006. Fourteen years is almost an eternity in sport.
A new local club could not only pick up some Broncos fans if they are successful, but it could light a fire under the Broncos’ belly. Get them back to their winning days of old. Imagine if the scenes if Kevin Walters was named as the coach of a new Brisbane team or even Wayne Bennett.
Attendances, TV ratings and sponsorship opportunities all point to Brisbane being the best bet for a 17th NRL club. Like a cold keg in the middle of summer, the capital of the sunshine state is just waiting to be tapped.
Todd Greenberg, do your thing.