A SECRET meeting in September between the Brisbane Broncos board and key rugby league identities in Ipswich has been hailed as the catalyst for a historic partnership being formed.
On Monday, The Ipswich Jets, Ipswich Rugby League and Ipswich Junior Rugby League agreed to a three-year affiliation with the Broncos that will provide Ipswich junior and senior players with a clear local pathway to the NRL.
Jets CEO Brad Wolens said it was the September meeting, arranged by Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, which brought together all the key stakeholders around the table to present a unified front.
"The mayor was instrumental in getting that meeting with the Broncos board and in the end it was the catalyst for getting us across the line," Wolens said.
"Not only did the three bodies get an opportunity to speak but it was also an opportunity for everyone to see that the Broncos and the council, and particularly the mayor, were very keen on supporting this partnership."
Cr Pisasale said it was "vital to get all the key stakeholders and the Broncos around the table".
"One of the things I wanted was to have all of the organisations working together to achieve the same goal," he said.
"Now we have cleared the way for a young person playing football in Ipswich to have a path to play in the NRL and for Queensland and Australia.
"I had a meeting with the Broncos board and all the other stakeholders in the Claremont Room (of the council chambers) where I did a presentation about what is happening in the city.
"Then I took them out to the Mehfil Restaurant for heaps of curry. I said to Broncos CEO Paul White, 'If you don't say yes, the curries are only going to get hotter'."
Cr Pisasale was furious when the Western Corridor NRL bid was put on hold by the Australian Rugby League Commission.
"That was totally stuffed up," he said.
"When that happened it looked like our juniors were going to miss out. But I was not going to allow that to happen.
"This all started when I had a sleepout with Broncos CEO Paul White when we were raising money for St Vincent de Paul last year.
"He was next to me all night and I was in his ear badgering him. He said, 'If you are quiet and go to sleep I'll bring the board out to Ipswich for a meeting'.
"That is what he gets for sleeping with the mayor.
"But I've been working on this for 12 months ... and we have now secured a partnership between the Broncos, the city and all key stakeholders."