Brisbane expansion gets the nod from ARLC

The NRL is set to add a 17th team to its competition with an announcement due in the next fortnight.
The NRL is set to add a 17th team to its competition with an announcement due in the next fortnight.

The NRL is preparing to announce the first expansion of the competition in 14 years with Brisbane to be granted a long-awaited second team.

Queensland are expected to be granted a fourth club from 2023 with an official announcement set to be made after the NRL grand final on Sunday week.

It follows an ARL commission board meeting where the expansion of the competition to 17 clubs was backed, pending approval by the 16 other clubs.

While the ARLC had always been keen to pursue expansion, it's understood the financial case for an additional team has now been forecast to more than stack up and appease any remaining concerns of existing clubs.

Once confirmed it will be the first time another team has been added to the competition since the Gold Coast Titans joined in 2007.

Following the official announcement of expansion in a fortnight, the league is then expected to hold further talks with bid clubs Brisbane Firehawks, Jets and Redcliffe Dolphins to grant a licence in October.

It will then allow the winning club to launch a signing spree with off-contract players from November 1 to start building a roster for the 2023 season.

It's understood the tight turnaround has fostered fear the new team would be the NRL's whipping boys and will struggle to build a fan base in its formative years.

However the pulling power of off-contract South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett - he has reportedly been in talks with all bid teams - is seen as the perfect appointment to negate those concerns.

The Dolphins have been considered the front-runners to be added to the NRL after impressing in a round of meetings with the ARLC last month.

Expansion has long been on the cards for the ARLC with chairman Peter V'landys wanting to advance the rugby league market in Brisbane.

"If we bring in a 17th team its got to bring in new audience and take a casual fan and turn them onto a rusted-on rugby league fan," V'landys told 2GB last month.

"There's no good taking fans from the Broncos or Titans or Dragons, they have got to be new fans, with new tribalism and they've got to reinvigorate Brisbane rugby league and that's what we are looking at."

Australian Associated Press