NRL pay price for ignoring hard work

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

IPSWICH Jets chairman Steve Johnson has to be admired.

He's put his heart and soul into the Western Corridor bid to join the National Rugby League. He's maintained a professional and positive approach despite receiving support then being told the team's future was in limbo.

The new NRL Commission has handled the expansion situation poorly unlike former boss David Gallop who saw the potential in Ipswich and the western corridor.

But while bid boss Johnson and his team have to wait, Aussie rules and football continue to secure their strongholds in the region.

It's almost ironic that one of Ipswich's traditional powerhouse sports is being blocked at national level while Aussie rules and football get vital kicks along.

There's little doubt our region is well suited to having an NRL team.

Johnson's relentless work in highlighting the playing numbers and regional support proves that.

But now the AFL and A-League have overtaken the NRL in the development race.

Having the Brisbane Lions move their $60m state-of-the-art base to Springfield is a massive coup for the city.

Now new A-League boss Gallop is taking his former rugby league expansion vision to the round ball game.

The progressive Western Pride Football Club is in his sights.

Having enjoyed a successful debut season, Western Pride showed what can be achieved when regional people work together. It's a testament to Ipswich's quality as a maturing city that Western Pride was formed through a united Ipswich Football organisation.

Regional football players, fans and officials can gain inspiration knowing we all own Western Pride and can continue to shape its future at state, and hopefully national level.

When the next A-League licence is offered, we need to be ready to step up, like we have in many avenues of regional sport over several decades.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and councillor David Morrison have been leading players in the AFL and A-League development.

Hearing the passion our mayor and councillor speak about sport, it's hardly surprising they are aiming for the sky.

It will be fascinating to see how the Lions development unfolds and how it helps the code.

However, having another traditional Ipswich sport in line for national exposure is just as exciting.

Ipswich has produced many state and international footballers over the years and Western Pride this season started building a new generation of youthful talent to support future elite teams.

Thankfully for rugby league, there has been some progress with the Ipswich Jets and Ipswich Junior Rugby League forming an historic partnership with the Brisbane Broncos. That does provide a pathway to the top for local players.

However, the reality is the NRL has been caught napping while the AFL and A-League are wide awake and getting on with the job.

Keep up the good work Johnson (pictured). You deserve to one day celebrate your commitment like the Lions and Western Pride.

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