Is it time for the NRL to five serious consideration to expansion?
The AFL managed to move the game beyond Victoria, although there was always at least some presence in the other parts of the country with the WAFL and the SANFL, but once they got the game into NSW, a move the Victorians now have cause to regret, given the rise of the Sydney franchises, along with jubilation at having a Queensland side that are more sacrificial lamb than lion at the moment, the game became a country-wide obsession.
Former Balmain and NSW representative Benny Elias thinks it is time for the NRL to expand its horizons, but he is advocating for some of the Sydney franchises to move.
True, there are enough that those sides might not be missed, but the question is where to put it.
Elias thinks that caravanning around to places such as Perth and Adelaide has demonstrated that there is fan support for NRL expansion, although he was quick to caution that one good show does not necessarily guarantee success over the length of an entire season.
Elias did use the high ratings for the first two State of Origin games, tuned into by viewers across the country, as further support for his scheme. He claims that corporations in Perth that have been shut out of private boxes to watch the West Coast Eagles might be eager to embrace an alternative.
Elias was adding fuel to the fire created by The Daily Telegraph, when commentator Phil “Buzz” Rothfield suggested that one of the Sydney sides should relocate.
There are currently 16 teams in the NRL, so expansion to 17 or more seems just as reasonable as moving one of the NSW teams.
Mark our words; the day is coming when the AFL and the NRL will split into divisions, adding an extra one or more finals games to the mix. The lure of the additional playoff revenue is simply too strong to resist forever.