The NRL’s 17th franchise has recently made its debut and it looks like the league is not going to stop there.
According to The Daily Telegraph Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis is backing a plan by the NRL to take over the AFL as the number one sport in Australia within the next nine years.
It is believed that the plan involves three more teams being added to the competition with ARL chairman Peter V’Landys confirming this at the NRL’s annual meeting with its clubs.
“I am all for looking at a 20-team competition because you have to set yourself goals,” said V’Landys.
To the surprise of some, it is believed that the 18th NRL team will be a Pasifika club that will be based in Cairns, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.
At this point there is no word on exactly when this team would join the NRL; however, The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Australian government is set to invest tens of millions of dollars into the Pasifika-based club to help jump-start its existence.
In a move that would also improve their chances of joining the NRL, the Pasifika franchise could form a merger with the North Sydney Bears who are believed to be open to joining forces with the Pasifika bid to better their chances of returning to first grade.
NRL expansion bombshell: 20-team competition could revive Bears, include Pasifika team
— Michael Carayannis (@MCarayannis) March 11, 2023
The NRL’s next TV rights deal is set to launch in 2027 which could be the opportune time for the league to unveil or debut its 18th franchise.
History was recently made when The Dolphins made their NRL debut on the first Sunday of March at Suncorp Stadium against the Sydney Roosters where over 32,000 fans witnessed their huge underdog victory.
Last Saturday The Dolphins then backed up their round one triumph with a late comeback victory against the Canberra Raiders at Kayo Stadium in Redcliffe that saw them finish the evening in first place on the NRL ladder with local rivals the Brisbane Broncos in second.
The early on-field success of The Dolphins and the big crowds they have gotten to games has certainly improved the NRL’s confidence in including not just one, but three more teams by 2032.