The quest for NRL expansion certainly isn’t the race it once was, but with a new NRL franchise on the radar to be included by 2013 – the campaigning is well under way for a Perth, Central Coast and Queensland outfit.
While the Central Coast franchise has kept itself firmly in the media spotlight and has presented a good case – it seems that the potential for a Perth NRL franchise is still well and truly there.
With David Gallop holding positive talks in the past week with Perth Rugby League heavyweights – the signs certainly seem good for the Westerners.
Chairman of WARL Terry Creasy says the league has held positive talks with NRL boss David Gallop, who indicated WA is a front runner to be awarded a team.
WA faces stiff competition for the new franchise from the Central Coast Bears consortium in New South Wales.
Mr Creasy says he is confident the WA franchise would have corporate and public backing and present a formidable force in the NRL.
Certainly from a long term National Rugby League point of view – establishing and growing Perth is a much smarter plan than awarding a franchise to the Central Coast or Queensland.
Sure, both the NSW and Queensland are Rugby League heartland states and offer the ‘safest’ bet in terms of short term success for both club and competition – but if the NRL is serious about becoming a truly national sport, then Perth must be the target for the next phase of expansion.
Critics thumb their nose at Perth after the failed Reds experiment, but that was a different, tougher time when war was waging and the focus could not be channeled to the Western State exclusively.
With rapid expansion in Queensland and Adelaide at the same time, the original Perth outpost was unable to be given the consistent and exclusive support it needed to flourish.
Take the most recent addition to the NRL in the Gold Coast Titans. While establishing a new team in Queensland is easier, given the following for League, lets not forget how badly the original Gold Coast outfits were going in terms of results, corporate backing, fan support and overall profile.
The Chargers, Giants and Seagulls flopped from one week to the next in every department.
The Titans – have so far been a resounding success. A super state of the art Stadium, smart management and obviously having a quality roster helps.
In modern day Rugby League, the salary cap along with patient expansion will ensure an ideal footing for a new team to get going.
Gallop and his team deserve much credit here, they pondered options and correctly chose the Coast and beat the AFL to the punch on the tourist strip.
Plenty of people try and pour water on the NRL vs AFL theory, but make no mistake – these codes are fighting for youngsters to establish the next generation of fans.
The AFL might be flush with funds and they have to their credit established a National presence, but make no mistake – they genuinely fear the NRL setting up in Western Australia and South Australia.
Naturally it would take time, years, to build a following – but this would eventually challenge the AFL’s stranglehold on these neutral states.
Lets face it, if the NRL was able to enter the Victorian market and establish the Melbourne Storm – then going after Western Australia and eventually South Australia is certainly possible.