Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Queensland will soon have four NRL clubs based in their great state from 2023 onwards when Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins take the field for the first time, after recently having their bid to join the NRL accepted.
Through the Dolphins being announced as the NRL’s next franchise, the league also took the opportunity to confirm an 18th club is in their plans and that they are open to bids.
We have since seen The Bears formally announce their bid to return to the competition and the Western Reds make their intentions of rejoining the league known also.
However, it seems a third entity may join this party as Queensland Rugby League Chairman Bruce Hatcher has urged the NRL to reconsider the Brisbane Jets bid and have them be the competition’s 18th franchise and base them out of the Western Corridor to combat the growth of AFL in the area.
“We can’t continue to allow Logan, Ipswich and Toowoomba to be a potential future NRL area – it’s got to come in at some stage,” said Hatcher to the Courier Mail.
“That has to be a focus, it is real rugby league territory, I’d like to see that.
The NRL has been urged to consider adding a fifth Queensland team into Brisbane’s southwest corridor to combat the AFL threat and solidify one of the state’s rugby league strongholds, via @travismeyn @badel_cmail
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— Courier Mail Sport (@cmail_sport) October 29, 2021
“The Gold Coast Titans have battled adversity pretty much since they got on board but have done a good job and are now in a pretty good position.
“The next area for Queensland to have an NRL team has got to be that area.”
Jets bid chief Nick Livermore has also spoken to the Courier-Mail, outlining that the franchise may put in a bid again, although it seems he would still want the club to be primarily based in Brisbane, which makes sense as he was originally a part of the Brisbane Bombers bid, which had no ties to the Western Corridor until they merged bids in February.
“The long answer is let’s see how the NRL progresses with their first expansion move with the Dolphins,” said Livermore.
“It will come down to whether or not the NRL wants another Brisbane franchise.
“I believe there is still room in the market for a fifth Queensland team servicing the western corridor.
“Our area is the equivalent of Penrith and Parramatta in western Sydney so, if the NRL is serious about growing participation and grassroots, they would look at Brisbane’s west for an 18th team.
“While we were disappointed to miss out, we certainly can muster the energy to be part of another bid process down the track.”
It is unlikely the NRL would base yet another team in Brisbane and risk saturating the market, so if this bid goes ahead its strongest chance of succeeding would be to base the team in Ipswich, although they will be up against some stiff competition in a Perth based bid and the Bears.