Candidates for the NRL’s 18th team

18 Mar 23, 12:26PM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

The NRL has recently held discussions about possibly extending the number of teams in the league to 20 by 2023 but first, they need to decide who will be team 18.

Since The Dolphins were announced to be the league’s 17th team the week after the 2021 NRL Grand Final several bids and intentions to bid to be the competition’s 18th team have been made.

While some bids seem to be stronger than others there are still multiple genuine candidates who could find themselves in the NRL sooner rather than later.


The Daily Telegraph’s recent report on the NRL’s potential plans to extend the league to 20 clubs also featured a rumour that a Pasifika team who would be based in Cairns and play games in Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa is currently the favourite to be the next franchise added to the NRL.


Since the days of the Western Reds Rugby League diehards in Perth have longed for a team in their city, with two sellout Origins and a doubleheader at Optus Stadium in 2018 drawing a crowd of over 30,000 there is certainly still a hunger for our game in Australia’s western state.


The Warriors recent game in Wellington may have not drawn desired numbers but that does not rule out a second NRL club joining the competition as the league could opt to introduce a second Auckland-based side to capitalise on Rugby League’s popularity in the area, which could lead to other cities in New Zealand having their own side in the following years.


Depending on the success of The Dolphins Queensland may earn themselves a fifth NRL franchise as multiple teams from the Sunshine State have their sights set on a place in the NRL with the Ipswich Jets being the likely Queensland candidate as they put in a bid to be the NRL’s 17th team but unfortunately lost out to The Dolphins.


The Bears have officially launched their bid to rejoin the NRL and to gain a better chance of doing so have dropped the North Sydney location title from their name in the hopes that they may merge with one of the above city’s bids to improve the likelihood of their first-grade return.

While there has been no exact timeline given on when the NRL’s 18th team will join the competition fans should at the very least know who will be joining the league and when by 2027 as that will be when the NRL’s new television rights deal comes into effect.

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