THE Ipswich Jets’ NRL bid team will target Queensland State of Origin star Cameron Smith as the club’s first marquee signing if they are granted a NRL licence.
The man at the helm of the NRL push, Jets chairman Steve Johnson, said Smith would be their ideal inaugural signing because he hailed from Logan, which is part of the corridor the club would represent.
In July, NRL CEO David Gallop is expected to grant a 17th club licence for the 2013 season.
Smith signed a four-year extension to his contract in December, 2008, which finishes at the end of 2012.
Before Australian representative Smith signed his current contract, there was intense speculation he would return to Queensland to play with either the Brisbane Broncos or Gold Coast Titans.
“Cameron wants to return to Queensland and is off contract when the new licence comes in so he would be our ideal first signing,” Johnson said.
“The person he is, not only as a player but as a leader, is exactly what we want here.
“In my discussions with player managers, I know there are a number of players who would love to come home to Queensland and be a part of a club west of Brisbane.
“Sam Thaiday is another player who is off contract around then that we would love to have at the club but whether he would be on a longer deal with the Broncos before then is another question.
“We want quality people, not just quality footballers.”
The case for an Ipswich-based NRL team is gaining momentum.
Reports from the NRL CEO conference in Byron Bay last week suggested the main rival to the Jets becoming an NRL club in 2013 is Central Queensland.
Sydney NRL clubs have reportedly baulked at the prospect the Central Coast Bears becoming the new club, fearing a piece of their market could be taken.
The Jets’ bid aims to represent the corridor west of Brisbane, comprising Logan, Ipswich and Toowoomba.
“There are 2.2 million people in Brisbane and just one NRL team and the corridor we will represent will have 9000 juniors playing by 2013,” Johnson said.
“You cannot ignore the figures. It’s us and Central Queensland which make the most sense.”