Why Ipswich and Perth should get nod for NRL expansion

Good on the new ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie for putting expansion back on the table but now the NRL, along with the Commission, has got to explain how it is going to be done.

They need to come out and say when NRL expansion is happening, where they want it to happen and how it will unfold.

The bid teams need timelines. Everyone needs a timeline. It is like going for a tender.

There is a lot of work to be done, but the NRL needs to say "we want two clubs and we want them here and here". Then let the submissions from the bidders come in.

We've already seen all these bids pop up like they did last time, but you don't want people wasting money on ventures that probably won't happen in the short term.

Sponsors will come from anywhere. When you get an NRL side you attract national interest.

Steve Renouf

In particular, the NRL needs to say where it wants expansion.

I got on well with David Gallop when he was the boss of the NRL. Back in the day he was a guy who would take my call. I remember having a chat to him on the phone and he told me Ipswich and Perth was where they were going to expand. I respected him and I could tell he was fair dinkum.

They call their bid in Ipswich the "Western Corridor" and it takes in Logan, Ipswich, all that western area of Brisbane and right out through Toowoomba, the Darling Downs and out to Roma. There are virtual satellite cities of Brisbane popping up out there and that is where the population growth is in the south-east corner of Queensland.

If there has been a better catchment area for rugby league talent I am yet to hear of one. You've got Allan Langer, Cameron Smith, the Walters boys, Corey Parker ... and you can throw Johnathan Thurston in there as well. We'd be here all day rattling them off.

People say they won't get the financial backing but sponsors will come from anywhere. When you get an NRL side you attract national interest.

Broncos legend Allan Langer.
Broncos legend Allan Langer. ©NRL Photos

I know the bid chairman out there, Steve Johnson. He's a good operator and he owns a law firm here in Brisbane. He's worked on that bid for years.

A derby with the Brisbane Broncos would be massive. Critics will say that it didn't work with the old South Queensland Crushers, but they just didn't win enough games and the Super League war hurt them too. It was just bad timing.

Go back 30 years - and by the way, happy birthday to the Brisbane Broncos - to the vision the four directors and the CEO John Ribot had. You just need to duplicate that. If you start with a winning team it is going to be successful.

I love the Broncos but I don't think they will lose anything with a new team. The Broncos are set up nationwide with their brand. Even in North Queensland, if people don't support the Cowboys then you find their second team is Brisbane.

The Broncos would get two local derbies a season with another team based nearby and it would sell out Suncorp Stadium every time and be a ratings winner.

I remember David Gyngell when he was in charge at Channel Nine said an extra Brisbane team would add value to the broadcast rights.They were talking $30 million a year back then.

North Queensland Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston.
North Queensland Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

The NRL powerbrokers need to find the money to fund expansion but they also need to think outside the box and work with the rights holders to find a way.

I played against the Western Reds in Perth and I think it can work again.

I reckon the NRL yearns to have a team there in Western Australia.  You just have to look at this weekend where Perth has a double-header to kick off a season. A lot of time and money has gone into taking NRL games there and if the game wants to be truly national then Perth is a shoe-in to get a team.

The Western Force rugby team has gone, so there is a massive opportunity for rugby league to step in and take back its former territory.