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Pitch to be the NRL’s 17th team

Posted: 4pm 24 Aug 2021

The Dolphins spent 90 minutes making their pitch to the Australian Rugby League Commission yesterday to be the 17th NRL team, with a decision most likely to come in October.

Dolphins Chairman Bob Jones, CEO Tony Murphy and NRL bid chief Terry Reader fronted the commission as did representatives from the two other bid clubs – Brisbane Firehawks and Brisbane Jets.

It follows written submissions lodged on June 7, which will be analysed and assessed against the NRL’s criteria.

ARL Commissioner Kate Jones told ABC Radio’s Breakfast program this morning that the commission had asked all clubs for additional information and would work hard to make a decision in October.

“It was clear from all clubs that from November 1, we’ll have a lot of players that they’ll need to engage with so certainly we’re aware of the time constraints and we’ll be working our absolute hardest to make a decision as quickly as possible,” she said.

“Time is of the essence. The commission is well aware of that and certainly we’ll be meeting regularly in the coming weeks to look at all the information.

“Where we left it yesterday … three really strong compelling bids and we’ve certainly asked all three teams for more information and we’ll be taking that all into account when we make our decision.”

Ms Jones said yesterday’s discussion focused on governance and risk, financial viability, commercial strategy, growth of the game and the clubs’ ability to be “football ready” for a possible start in 2023.

Expansion not guaranteed

“It is still ‘if’. Peter V’landys, our Chairman, has made it very clear that through this process he wants the commission, through the teams, to be convinced that there is no risk to the greater game,” she told the ABC.

“There is resistance in other clubs. Certainly, here is Queensland particularly we’re focused on not poaching fans or supporters from the existing clubs, so it’s really about the bid clubs being able to demonstrate that they can grow new fans and have a clear plan to convert fans of footy to come to a game to come to a local derby and also be supporters of the game.”

Ms Jones acknowledged population growth from Caloundra South through the Moreton Bay Region and in the western corridor.

“Clubs were very keen to convince us that they can get new residents coming into this region to follow our code and to have that rivalry. There is a lot to be said for two teams in close quarters coming to Suncorp Stadium and having that local competitiveness and tribalism, so these are all the things that we’ll consider,” she said.

Dolphins are NRL-ready

Dolphins’ NRL bid chief Terry Reader said: “Our catchment area is the fastest growing area in Queensland, if not Australia. We will appeal to Brisbane, Moreton Bay Region and the Sunshine Coast areas – and beyond”.

“It’s got to stack up and we think that ours does – when you look at the key areas … financial viability being able to stand on your own two feet we think that we don’t have a peer in that area.

Mr Reader said the Dolphins were in a position to hit the ground running the moment they were given the green light, with all the necessary infrastructure in place, and a from a solid financial position to ensure it would be a stable and viable NRL club.

“The club is very well set up and has all of the infrastructure to go tomorrow,” he said.

He said the Dolphins were "NRL-ready" and would not be faced with high start-up costs that could face other clubs without the necessary infrastructure. It’s already there.

If the club gets the green light, the focus would immediately be on recruiting staff and building a competitive roster of players.

"The Dolphins have been preparing for this since 1988 and have not deviated from the ultimate goal to deliver rugby league at the highest level of competition to the club again and if the NRL were to award us the licence tomorrow, we are ready to go... We are NRL-ready," Mr Reader said.

"We've got the facilities, we have the political backing as well as the financial backing, the guarantee is there from our diversified business for the NRL. We have three established stadiums to host games including our very own stadium. We have an already established brand with Queensland’s largest junior club base and a proven pathways and participation system that will only be supercharged with NRL entry.

"We guarantee certified growth to the game with our local population catchment that is one of the largest and fastest growing regions QLD but most of all, we have a new fan base that is currently un-serviced by an NRL team and ready to enjoy NRL action.

"We believe we will provide the NRL with the peace of mind and confidence to expand the competition with the Dolphins and look forward to continuing the dialogue to help them reach a decision."

The Dolphins are the Queensland Cup's most successful club, appearing in 12 Grand Finals and winning six Premierships since 1996.

Find about more about the bid here

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