The proposed North Ipswich Reserve Stadium.
The proposed North Ipswich Reserve Stadium. Contributed

NRL side will create pathway and keep players off bar stools

MAYORAL candidate Gary Duffy was lobbying for an Ipswich NRL team well before his last tilt at mayor in 2016.

Corruption crusader Mr Duffy said it was an obvious move for Ipswich and flow-on effects for the sporting community would keep players in the game and off "bar stools".

READ MORE: Gary Duffy's original plan for Ipswich's 20,000 seat stadium

READ MORE: Paul Tully backs Ipswich NRL side proposal

"Ipswich needs its own NRL team. It has the people, it has the location, it would get everyone from the western side of Brisbane up this way - it's a no brainer."

Mr Duffy said creating pathways to the NRL for local players would forge stronger community ties with sport, but the club would need to cast a wide net, including Toowoomba to Brisbane's inner west.

 

Gary Duffy will stand for mayor in 2020.
Gary Duffy will stand for mayor in 2020. Cordell Richardson

"Once you have an NRL team, then you can put in pathways for these good players to get through," he said.

"If they don't see a proper pathway to the NRL, we end up with good players wasting skills at the pub."

But cohesion is key to a successful bid, Mr Duffy said, and the bid, which could happen as early as 2023 according to NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, will require clubs from Brisbane's inner west all the way to Toowoomba to work together.

"You can't have one team go it alone," Mr Duffy said.

"You can't just say you're going to use the Ipswich teams, you need to get coaches, coaching directors and the managers.

"If Toowoomba has payers in the team, the whole town will travel.

"You have to consider it takes just as long sometimes from Ipswich to the Broncos game on a train and is the same amount of time it takes as it does from Toowoomba to Ipswich."

Mr Duffy said the stadium does not need to be expensive, but must be in the centre of town.

Ipswich City Council is already on the hunt for a qualified consultant or consortium of specialists to develop a business case and concept design for a sporting, recreational and entertainment precinct at North Ipswich Reserve.

The centrepiece of the facility would be a rectangular stadium capable of seating up to 20,000 people for NRL or A-League competition.

"That precinct down there on Lamington Parade can be turned into a nightlife precinct... if we put the Barry St bridge in we would have transport, we would have access... the boost would be phenomenal, but it needs to be in the centre of town," Mr Duffy said.

National team key to keeping players here

 

RLI Chairman Gary Parker.
RLI Chairman Gary Parker. Cordell Richardson

RUGBY League Ipswich chairman Gary Parker said an Ipswich NRL side is key to keeping players in the game.

"People can see if there's a western team, in Ipswich, there's a natural pathway straight into it," he said.

"They don't have to go to Broncos, Titans, West Tigers, Knights, they just go into that NRL side."

Currently, standout players in Ipswich's A grade already walk into a reserves spot in an established NRL side, but keeping these players would strengthen the second tier competition, Mr Parker said.

"Jets go out and look at 30, 40, 50 players but they're only allowed to contract 30 in the Q Cup (Intrust Super Cup) side," he said.

"Given they've got no second division side, like a BRL side like the Easts and the Wynnums and the Redcliffes, whatever players they have left over have to drop back into the Ipswich A grade side.

"A lot of those players, if they don't make it they stop playing."

Mr Parker said anything that keeps players in the game longer, or opens doors is a positive to him.

"Players might come from Toowoomba or Miles or wherever, and occasionally you might see country players in the Jets, but when they don't make it, they just disappear, they don't go back to the A grade comp locally,"

"IF you had the NRL side, once it was formulation, in correlation, say the decision is in 12 months, I'd be pushing to boost one of the other clubs that could take those players back in,"

Mr Parker speculates having another large sub division around the Ripley area with a caught by a club like swifts that could cater for the big influx.

He said there will be more teams in the local competition as well.



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