Any time you can get someone high up the NRL chain to support your future NRL bid, you know you are in good hands – and for the Central Coast Bears, it does not get any bigger than John Quayle, with the man behind rugby league expansion two decades ago, saying the Bears should be a part of the NRL, as soon as possible.
Quayle, who is well respected among sports personnel in Australia, wants to see the Independent Commission add teams to the NRL in 2014, and he is adamant that the Bears should be one of those teams.
“In the Central Coast, there are four key things that the league doesn’t have to fund – travel, a stadium, finance and support,” Quayle said.
“Back 20 years ago, they were four of my key criteria [in judging potential franchises]. That is all now in place.
“So if we’re making the decision to expand, it seems a pretty simple one.
“If we are not extending an invitation for 2014 then we are giving other codes more time to win over the younger generation.
“Whether they expand to two or four or more teams, that’s a decision for the league, not me.
“As we did back then, if there are more teams that think they can enter the competition, give them the opportunity to see if they meet the criteria the commission will lay down.”
It was around the time of the Newcastle Knights inception into the NRL, that saw Quayle at one stage, almost consider a Central Coast team, but they chose the Knights.
“The arguments that I faced [for overlooking the Central Coast] are now gone,” he said.
“They are getting corporate support, we know it’s a rugby league town. Is it close to Sydney for the players and everyone else who wants an opportunity? Yes it is. Will they develop their own? Look at the players they have developed over the years.”
Although in the past, some teams have not survived for various reasons, Quayle says that this should not deter the Independent Commission to want to expand the sport – with Quayle also highlighting the passion of Bid Chief, Greg Florimo.
“It would be very easy for people in his situation to give up … years ago they could have walked away,” he said.
“That enthusiasm is strong as that of any of the teams that I brought in.
“That’s a pretty big plus for the Central Coast.”
It is success stories like the Canberra Raiders as a franchise, who have become one of the most popular NRL teams since their inception, now labelled ‘the Green Machine’ – that has Quayle convinced the NRL needs to look at long-term investments, when it comes to expansion.
“If you listen to the negatives, the people who didn’t want expansion 20 years ago, it would never have happened,” he said.
“It was pretty hard stuff, winning over some of the arguments. That’s where the league as the controlling body has to work harder. If there needs to be more concessions given to development in areas, then do it.
“With the Central Coast Bears, a lot of those development programs are already in place.”