Wide Bay is not a QRL expansion target - yet
LEAGUE: Wide Bay will remain rugby league's semi-professional black hole as Queensland's south west and the Northern Territory appear to be in the front-running for any expansion.
In an interview published on the Queensland Rugby League website, competitions manager Dave Maiden spoke at length about what fans can expect in 2019, including the draws, rule changes, Papua New Guinea Hunters' place in the Intrust Super Cup and the future of the competition.
When talking about expansion, Maiden said the Western Mustangs, who participate in the state-wide under-age competitions, the Hasting Deering Colts and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup, had expressed interest in returning the Intrust Super Cup.
"We have been in discussion with the Western Mustangs steering committee for the past two years, (and they have) indicated their desire to re-enter the Intrust Super Cup in the near future,” Maiden told QRL Media.
"Expansion to ensure we have complete coverage across our state is firmly in the QRL charter and we are right behind their bid.
"Having said that, we don't want them to enter before they are ready, so will continue to work with them with a view of seeing them in the Intrust Super Cup in the next few years.
"It is a fine balance between providing a natural pathway for their participants as soon as possible and not rushing the process which causes their organisation to stumble at the first hurdle.
"We want to see economically sound and participant rich clubs whose existence is sustainable in perpetuity.”
Wide Bay, one of the only regions without an Intrust Super Cup franchise, was not mentioned in the discussion.
Earlier this year, Maiden told the Chronicle our region and the south west were the two areas left to ensure rugby league had a footprint across the whole state.
"The South West is the most pressing though due to the player numbers in that catchment area and there is a concern that the numbers around the Wide Bay region are not sufficient to support an Intrust Super Cup club,” he said earlier this year. "There is also a concern that the financial backing and enough big industry is not there to make them financially viable.”
Maiden said the QRL had a number of parameters to determine whether an expansion club can sustain a team, which includes the "number of participants in their proposed catchment area combined with the number and quality of the industries and businesses they have within that same area”.
"This goes a long way to determining player and economical sustainability,” Maiden said. "We have also spoken with the Northern Territory about whether they are interested in competing in our competitions and those discussions will continue.”