DAVE DEPARTS: NRL CEO Dave Smith announced his resignation in Sydney on Tuesday, after three years as NRL supremo.
DAVE DEPARTS: NRL CEO Dave Smith announced his resignation in Sydney on Tuesday, after three years as NRL supremo. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Expansion game on

WITH the shock resignation of National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith on Tuesday there are many in the game who believe the door to NRL expansion is now open again.

A door that the outgoing Smith had firmly shut.

One of them is Geoff Murphy, who has championed a new NRL rugby league team in Central Queensland since 2009. Murphy, chairman of the Central Queensland NRL bid said recent developments could well prove the catalyst for two new teams to be added to the NRL.

"I would hope that what has taken place would be positive to our bid," Murphy told the Bulletin.

"At this early stage, I am a little in the dark as to whether or not it will, but I remain hopeful that expansion is now firmly back on the agenda.

"Mr Smith had delayed any decision on expansion, as he felt it was too early and not the right time. But hopefully his departure might mean that a decision on the NRL expanding would now come sooner rather than later."

Murphy also believes that Smith's departure means the Pay TV broadcast rights, which are yet to be finalised, could become another reason NRL expansion might be back on the table.

"Mr Smith only signed off on half the television rights deal, with Free to Air, giving Channel Nine an extra two games. The NRL, if it wants the same amount of money, if not more, from Fox Sports are going to have to give them the same amount of games they already had.

"To do so, they will need to find an extra game. That means two new teams. So, the pressure is now on the NRL to expand by two teams to be able to give Fox the game they lost to Channel Nine under Smith's arrangement.

"It is obvious Fox will say, if you want our money you need to give us the same number of games we had previously. To do so they will need an extra game each weekend for Fox and that means two new teams.

"I am yet to discuss this with the NRL but if they do expand by two teams, common sense would dictate that one of those comes from Central Queensland."

Meanwhile, Murphy says the rest of Queensland needs to support a new NRL team based in Rockhampton, rather than constantly thwart it. This includes the North Queensland Cowboys and South-East Queensland, who Murphy labels as "greedy".

"The Cowboys complain that a team based in Rocky would eat in to their supporter base," Murphy said.

"But when the Cowboys were offered the chance to come here for a ticker tape parade with the NRL premiership winning team, they said 'no, it's not our heartland'.

"This proves we really need a NRL team here. Both North Queensland and South-East Queensland are just not interested in us - but we are the rugby league heartland.

"We think the Cowboys have done a wonderful job in North Queensland.

"But we can replicate that in CQ without having any effect on their supporter base. We have as big a population within four hours of Rocky as Townsville has in its four-hour radius.

"Meanwhile, South-East Queensland are just typically greedy. They already have two NRL teams and they want a third.

"They can't see past Caboolture.

"The Brisbane press only talk about the Brisbane Bombers, Ipswich and Redcliffe as serious bidders for a new Queensland team in the NRL.

"They need to lift their vision and look out for the interests of all of Queensland, rather than just selfishly think of themselves.

"They have a very short-sighted vision for the game.

"Like I say, they can't see past Caboolture."

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