The Decision On An 18th NRL Team Should Be Made Sooner Rather Than Later

In recent days the NRL has been pushing out media releases stating that the game has been making a record profit and the NRL itself has now got quite a bit of money in the bank which can be used to invest in the game.

We have also seen NRL clubs, and the players association pushing for a bigger cut of the games income, one that would not only see a rise in the salary cap, but one that would dramatically raise the extra money clubs getting to run their operations.

With the Redcliffe Dolphins set to enter the NRL in 2023, with a very short amount of time to pull together their NRL squad, it all makes me think that the NRL should use its supposedly strong financial position to announce the 18th NRL clubs early in 2023 with an eye on them entering the competition for the 2025 season.

This would allow the team that gets the 18th licence to have plenty of time to put together not only their backroom staff, but also a decent NRL quality squad.

When you have 17 teams in the competition, one team each week is sitting on the sidelines watching the game at home. That is $10 million worth of talent the game is paying that isn’t running around on the field every weekend. That is lost money. That is one less team out there on the field to watch on TV and to bet on through sports betting which generates so much money for the sport.

The NRL needs an 18th team for that very reason, and with the game in such a strong financial position, there is no reason at all to hold back.

So, where should that 18th team be placed?

Perth is the obvious choice due to the strong local league there and the different time zone which would give you local afternoon games in Perth that would be broadcast into the east coach of Australia in the evenings.

Having a second team based in New Zealand is almost a must at this stage, with the Warriors needing a local rival to push them to improve, while the game in New Zealand just generally need a second pathway for elite local juniors to be able to come through.

Bringing the PNG Hunters straight into the NRL would be a very easy way to expand the competition, the problem being that you’d have to work out two major issues. 1. Would the Hunters be able to attract talent to the club to live in Papua New Guinea? That would be a very, very tough sell and might lead to a PNG NRL clubs actually being based in Australia while playing its home games in Port Moresby, which in itself is far from ideal. That leads up to the second big issue….the PNG national stadium is not up to NRL standard. It’s pretty good, but would need improved. There is a moral issue there for the NRL…asking a country like PNG to spend so many millions to improve a football stadium when that money really should be spent in much more important areas.

Adelaide is another destination the NRL would have to look at, with an eye on building towards having a full national competition.

Queensland looks well covered for now, and we won’t see another team added to New South Wales no matter how many stupid North Sydney Bears articles the media decides to publish.

There is no doubt the talent is there in the NRL to cover expanding the completion, and with so much money in the game, the time is now to set things up with an eye on the next broadcasting agreement.

It is an important time for the game. Lets hope the NRL realises that and makes a decision soon.

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