New QLD team emerges as NRL expansion hopeful
THE NRL expansion race has intensified with the Easts Tigers revealing they are working on a bid to blow the Brisbane Bombers out of the water and set up an explosive River Rivalry with the Broncos.
The Courier-Mail can reveal a new consortium has entered the race to become Brisbane's second NRL team with Intrust Super Cup stalwarts Easts plotting promotion to the big league in 2023.
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The development comes just a week after ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys met with News Corp co-chairman and ardent Broncos fan Lachlan Murdoch, who gave the green light for the ARLC to lobby for a second Brisbane team in the next TV rights deal.
News Corp is the parent company of Foxtel, publishers of The Courier-Mail and majority shareholder of the Brisbane Broncos.
Redcliffe, Ipswich's western-corridor bid and the Brisbane Bombers have been gunning for NRL entry for the past nine years, but now there is a serious new player in the fierce expansion battle.
Tigers chief executive Brian Torpy confirmed he has contacted NRL hierarchy with a view to joining the top flight and creating a North versus South derby with the Brisbane Broncos.
"We're certainly interested, there's no doubt about that," Torpy told The Courier-Mail.
"I haven't spoken to Peter V'landys but we've already had preliminary discussions with the NRL. We spoke to them to get an awareness of what would be needed to get involved.
"We are keen to find out more information from the NRL on their plans for expansion and what is required.
"We haven't been mentioned in the expansion race until now but we believe we are the perfect option for a 17th team.
"The Broncos are on the northside and we are on the southside so it sets up a great River Rivalry.
"A North versus South derby with the Broncos sounds pretty exciting for Brisbane fans doesn't it?"
V'landys is pushing on with his plan for a 17-team competition after a successful meeting with Murdoch.
It is understood Murdoch had no issue with the notion of a second Brisbane team challenging the Broncos and gave V'landys his blessing to front broadcasters in July armed with a 17-team blueprint.
That is compelling news for prospective expansion teams such as the Tigers. Founded in 1917, Easts are based at Coorparoo, 4km from the CBD, possess a rich leagues club and have solid infrastructure at Langlands Park.
"From our point of view, it's important the team is based in the heart of Brisbane and we are in the right location," Torpy said.
"We're well located. We are close to the CBD, we have 33,000 members at our leagues club and we have excellent training facilities at Langlands Park which have been used by the Queensland Origin team and the Australian Kangaroos.
"The time is right for a second Brisbane team and we are a good choice. We have $40 million in assets with our leagues club plus money in the bank so financially we could support a bid.
"We are just waiting until there is confirmation from the NRL before we press ahead."
One impediment to the Tigers bid is their nickname. The Wests Tigers are already in the NRL so Easts would face the prospect of a name change to mount a successful expansion bid.
"If the tender process went ahead, we would need to look at our nickname because we accept that the Wests Tigers are already in the competition," Torpy said.
"We would have to consider other alternative names.
"I think we could get a bid delivered (if the NRL calls for tenders). I don't know what the NRL is looking for, but six months would be sufficient time and we could put something together in that amount of time."