Is there room for a 17th team?
Is there room for a 17th team?

Legend’s major NRL expansion slap down

LONG considered a diversion tactic, the NRL appears as though it will be continuing to look into adding a 17th team to the competition.

While it's long been spoken about, it appears as though the NRL is seriously considering a bid for the 2023 season.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has indicated Brisbane is in line to launch a second team with the decision needing to be made by the end of the season.

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There are reportedly four candidates that could push for inclusion into the NRL with a study into expansion to provide great clarity.

A second Brisbane team has long been seen as the best place for a new side as it would provide a local rivalry for the Broncos, who have the NRL's highest membership base and easily the highest attendance average.

The Broncos attracted an average of 29,516 fans every game, while no other team averaged more than 20,000.

Franchises in Redcliffe, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Brisbane itself have all been floated, while Perth, North Sydney and New Zealand are other options as the NRL contemplates expanding from 16 teams.

Tevita Pangai Jnr is up for the fight of a second Brisbane team.
Tevita Pangai Jnr is up for the fight of a second Brisbane team.

"(Brisbane) is an absolute rugby league town; we've seen that particularly in the last five years. The strength of the game here both in participation and ratings has been phenomenal," Greenberg said.

But while Greenberg and new ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys are reported to be fans of expansion, former Melbourne Storm and Queensland great Billy Slater has slammed the plan.

Speaking on Wide World Of Sports radio, Slater said there's not enough talent to go around.

"I honestly don't believe there's enough talent to fill another team," Slater said. "I think you'll deplete the competition. If the game wants to go out and expand they need to look at developing players a lot more.

"I think that's a real issue in the game is player development. If they get that right everything else will take care of itself - sponsorship (and) bums on seats. You get the players out there, you get more Kalyn Ponga's, you get more Cameron Smith's out on the field everything else will take care of itself.

"It's really important to compete all the time. If you've got a competitive team, an easy team to market, supporters will come and watch your team. If you get that right, you get everything else right."

Billy Slater doesn’t believe there’s enough talent to go around.
Billy Slater doesn’t believe there’s enough talent to go around.

While Greenberg's comments appeared to point toward a 17th team coming in, he also hedged his bets and said there was plenty still to work out.

"I was asked that question pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane today," Greenberg said.

"The game's doing a very detailed piece of work at the moment on its future footprint.

"We know there's an extremely strong appetite for another club in Queensland, we acknowledge that.

"I'm not watering it down, I'm just suggesting there's a lot of work to do before you simply sign on the dotted line."

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg speaking to guests at the Queensland 2020 NRL Season Launch. Photo Lachie Millard
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg speaking to guests at the Queensland 2020 NRL Season Launch. Photo Lachie Millard

But it hasn't stopped some from getting excited.

Broncos great Darren Lockyer on Monday put his weight behind the Redcliffe bid.

Adding two teams would create an extra fixture and potentially add value to the next broadcast deal.

It is why Broncos great Lockyer hopes the NRL have done their homework if they are to add just one team to the mix.

"(I support it) as long as the NRL are adamant it won't fail and that's why they're taking their time," he said.

"They want to make sure that if we do this it's going to work.

"Redcliffe has a growing population and is known as a rugby league community … they're one of the potential clubs that could make it work."



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