With the Telstra 2020 NRL Premiership competition start now just over a week in the future, the pre-season marketing is in full swing, including the potential of increasing the competition from 16 to 18 clubs.
Sports fans might love the expansion, while players might be at least a tad bit leery over the prospect of an extra fixture.
That extra round should not be a major issue and it is easy to imagine the regular season being kept of 24 games.
The location of the new club or clubs has yet to be finalised, but NRL head honcho Todd Greenberg says that the area in and around Brisbane is the top contender.
Greenberg said that the NRL could make the decision and announcement as soon as the middle of 2020, with the end of the year viewed as the deadline.
“(Brisbane) is an absolute rugby league town; we’ve seen that particularly in the last five years. The strength of the game here both in participation and ratings has been phenomenal,” Greenberg said.
That could chip into the base for the Broncos, but while the final say is still up in the air, places such as Redcliffe, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich are prime candidates.
Another club in New Zealand is an option, while Perth continues to make its case for a club in Western Australia.
“We know there’s an extremely strong appetite for another club in Queensland, we acknowledge that,” Greenberg said.
If and when the NRL expands, it is generally safe to assume that it would be the year 2023 for a new club to begin playing.
The impetus behind an expanded fixture seems to be that it would add value to the next broadcast deal.
Unlike some sports codes, where players lobby heavily for less, not more work, rugby players always seem willing to play on for the slightest pretext.
Perth has been trying to demonstrate the support necessary while minimising the impact of cross-continent travel, while the area in and around Brisbane is quick to point out that everything is already in place.