A big crowd in Perth to see the Bunnies and the Warriors has relit the calls for the NRL to expand with a return to the west the main topic of discussion. Earlier Brad Fittler suggested that the Melbourne Storm be relocated to Perth, regarding that I’m not sure what his thinking was as the NRL have spent years establishing the Storm in Melbourne. In terms of a Perth side, I am all for it in the future BUT only if the side is one started from scratch.
For the record I do not believe the NRL has the talent pool to justify extension just yet. We see with the struggles of The Dragons and Eels especially that they are perhaps a few years off challenging for the top 8. We’ve seen in the AFL that although the GWS Giants were given extreme draft assistance and have a list brimming with talent, it’s boys vs. men when it comes to the physical contest, and as the poor crowds have shown, people are not willing to spend big money to support a team that is not expected to win a single game this season.
The NYC competition has been a success for mine and has produced and fast tracked some amazing talent but a new side would require the nucleus of a side to come from this competition as most NRL talent is contracted. The NRL got the timing right with the Titans and I believe in a few years’ time, I’d say 5; the NYC will have produced enough talent, who with time to mature will be able to be spread to another team.
That aside, IF a team was to be based in Perth; I am strongly of the belief that it should be a team started from scratch. As a Sharks fan, when there were rumours of my club being shifted to Perth, I can tell you that the majority of talk was that if they were moved, fans would not follow. They’d give up memberships and stop supporting the club and in some cases the code.
Secondly I do not believe the public in Perth would embrace a team shifted from the East. The team would need its own identity and not be known as the “Once from but now based in Perth so and so’s” …
I lived in Perth a few years ago for 6 months. I can tell you from experience AFL is light years ahead of other codes over there. On “derby day” EVERYONE in town knew what time the game kicked off, most were wearing supporter’s gear and every shop you’d go in to had some sort of sign up or someone asking who you supported. The Perth Glory (football) side is well supported, as are the Force (rugby) but NOTHING like the Eagles and Dockers.
There was NO coverage of the league over there, when I asked if bar staff could put a game on they asked “what channel?” so they didn’t even know where it was being television, let alone putting it on. EVERYONE I met at the pub that was watching league had moved to Perth for one reason or another. No one in Perth who had been born and raised there seemed to care about the code in any way, shape or form. There was no coverage in the papers and the sports bulletins just gave scores, no highlights or anything. Channel 9 showed the Friday Night game at 12:30 am (remembering the time difference) 8 hours after the game kicked off in Sydney.
I’m sure at first fans would be keen to watch League, either missing it after moving interstate or developing an interest, and would flock in numbers but after a few losses I believe most would go back to supporting their previously supported clubs or another sport unless they were given a team to support that was their own.
A mate of mine moved to the Gold Coast and switched his support to the Titans being they were now his local side. He told me straight up there was no way he would have done so had the club not been a specific Gold Coast originate club. I’m sure the odd fan would switch to a relocated Perth side and fans of the original (i.e. Storm) would also go along, but I’m sure MANY more would support a team originated in Perth.
They had early success with the Western Reds. Big crowds, a few wins, some big name players, but it soon fell away. With the mining boom bringing people from the Eastern states I believe the number of league fans would have increased so when the talent is available I’m all for a Perth side to be re-entered into the competition, but only if they do so as the Perth so and so’s and not a relocated side.
I believe we will see a Perth side in the future, as well as either a second Brisbane team or the Central Coast, but it’s a few years off yet and both sides will be original sides.
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