Battle for second Brisbane NRL team fires up
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has backed moves for a second team in Brisbane to rival the Broncos and says "frustration" in talks with the NSW government has left the door ajar for Suncorp Stadium to host the 2021 grand final.
The NRL launched their 2019 finals series on Monday in Sydney but Greenberg also has one eye on the Brisbane market as he gave fresh hope to Queensland fans of more rugby league content in the Sunshine State.
It was revealed a fortnight ago that broadcaster Channel 9 wants to kill off a Sydney team to establish a second side in Brisbane in 2023. The Courier-Mail then revealed a secret consortium of five businessmen worth $50 million were ready to bankroll a bid for a fourth NRL team in Queensland.
Greenberg made it clear no Sydney team will be axed by the NRL, but said the prospect of creating another Brisbane club as part of a 17 or 18-team competition is a serious consideration.
The NRL boss will deliver his report on the state of the code, its national footprint and possible target expansion zones to ARL Commission in December.
"I do think a second Brisbane team is realistic," Greenberg said.
"We have zero appetite to kick any teams out of our competition, we are looking at the footprint at the moment, what the work will tell us will come down to us at the end of the year.
"But there is no appetite to take any club out of our 16 teams at the moment.
"We have been very open about the concept of whether we expand or whether we change the footprint of the competition.
"It's not just about Queensland either, there is a real appetite for other teams whether it's New Zealand or Perth or other parts of the country.
"There's some very strong appetite for rugby league in Queensland and we would be crazy not to look at it. But it's not a simple solution to kick a team out, that's certainly not in the discussions and not something on my agenda at all.
"Seventeen teams is an option, 18 teams is an option … everything is on the table."
The prospect of Suncorp clinching the 2021 NRL decider is also a live option. The NRL is currently in talks with the NSW government about possible venues for the 2021 and 2022 deciders as Sydney's ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium at Moore Park undergo major reconstruction.
The NSW government is under mounting pressure to deliver a solution and Greenberg admits there is contractual tension as Suncorp prepares to pounce as a grand-final contingency.
"Suncorp will be on the call sheet, that's for sure," Greenberg said.
"There is a level of frustration about that (negotiations for grand-final venues).
"We would like to have those plans in place. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that. We are in constant contact with the NSW government as partners with us. They are building $2 billion of infrastructure, you would expect us to have that conversation but I can't give you that answer just that.
"It's frustration that we don't have a long-term plan yet for where our grand finals will be over the next few years. I understand there is complications and sometimes these things take time. But I would like it wrapped up before Christmas."
Asked if Suncorp Stadium is the NRL's Plan B, Greenberg said: "I wouldn't be so strong as to call it Plan B, there's a number of interested parties for grand final content.
"But clearly we have a great relationship with the Queensland government and huge respect for Suncorp Stadium and the fans who have come and supported rugby league over a long period of time in Queensland."
Stream the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership on KAYO SPORTS. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >