With so much speculation about where the next two NRL teams will be situated, as the game looks into expanding – the Perth bid team will receive the boost of a life-time, with the NRL considering taking the October test match to the city, to gain an insight into the Perth area.
In a sign that things are moving forward, NRL CEO David Gallop met with both WA mining magnate Tony Sage, (a potential backer for the Perth bid), and Benny Elias, to discuss the Perth bid further – with a likely decision to come sometime next year.
Sage, who already has an influence in the city of Perth, as the owner of A-League side, the Perth Glory – knows comparisons exist between he and Knights owner Nathan Tinkler, with Gallop seeing such comparisons between the two as well.
”The game will look at the expansion issue in the next few months and if a decision was taken to go beyond 16 teams then Perth is clearly a leading contender,” Gallop said.
”Our recent research shows a surprising level of avid rugby league fans and with the population size, economy, time slot and stadium they are worthy of major consideration.
”[But] there are other areas that are also attractive, and making sure our existing 16 clubs are well looked after is a priority.”
In another positive sign, both NRL Marketing Manager Paul Kind and the New Zealand Rugby League Boss Jim Doyle, confirmed that Perth is one of the leading cities to host the October test, with both Townsville and the Gold Coast other potential options.
”Perth has put their hand up to host the Test in October and we are working through the process now,” Doyle said.
”Obviously with the expansion of the game, if we think there is an interest over there and it is a good step to take the Test over there then that is something we would consider.”
The key to any future expansion team, in Gallop’s eyes:
”Any bid would need to have a strong connection to the grassroots of the game locally,” Gallop said