South East Queensland is in the hot seat for a new NRL team, with the Redcliffe Dolphins, Firehawks and the Ipswich Jets Rugby League Team vying for a license.
Redcliffe Dolphins boss Tony Murphy says only an “unbelievable bid” could top theirs as the Australian Rugby League Commission officially welcomed expressions of interest to become the NRL’s 17th team.
Redcliffe are up against a combined Ipswich Jets-Brisbane Bombers bid and the centrally-based Brisbane Firehawks – backed by Easts Tigers – to become the state’s fourth team.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has been linked to a Brisbane return in some capacity to the Jets and Firehawks.
That would add spice to the inner-city rivalry at the heart of the ARLC’s desire to bolster the region with another outfit from 2023.
But, boasting an “NRL ready” facility and well-established leagues club and business model, Murphy says it’s a heartland that deserves a team of its own.
“I don’t worry about anybody else (other bids) I just worry about what we can do and I believe we’ve got the best bid,” the Redcliffe Leagues Club chief executive said.
“But if someone was to beat us it would be an unbelievable bid.
“We need to be successful from day one, we are a true rugby league club and we’re very successful in the Queensland cup – we’re the most successful team in the state league.
“We certainly know how to run a rugby league club.”
Broncos coach Kevin Walters grew up in Ipswich but is sitting on the fence as the club braces for the introduction of its next rival.
“I’ve got no problem (with expansion in Brisbane), think it’s great for the game, for coaches, administration and the rivalry will be something else as well,” he said.
The Dolphins would host most of their fixtures at Suncorp Stadium with a handful in Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium, while the Jets and Firehawks would play home games exclusively out of Suncorp Stadium.
There are claims another team in Brisbane would be worth $50 million to the code but Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher has fears about saturating the market and wants to see proof before investing.
But the NRL and ARLC are confident they can display that with a decision expected as soon as next month.