NRL Expansion Discussion

What’s the odds of they jumping straight to 20 teams rather than staging via 18?

At the stage you’d have to say PNG are a certainty (although some work needs to be done with security).

Next would be Perth or 2nd NZ (Wellington or Christchurch).

I think Ipswich, Rockhampton or any other QLD team would be behind these 3 (although we are not hearing much about 2nd NZ).

Bears as stated are destined to remain NSW cup, unless of course they pair with another team.

Probably more likely the Steelers return than North Sydney

I’m not sure they would go from 17 to 20 in one go. I think the lessons learned from the fast expansion & contraction of the 80s & 90s will have the NRL look at taking things slower. I’m expecting the tenders for the 18th team to open next year, with a view to kicking off in 2026.

From there I’m expecting the tenders for the 19th & 20th teams to open in 2030, with the view to kicking off in 2032, to coincide with the Brisbane Olympics. I’m also expecting one of those teams to be another Queensland (probably Brisbane) side.

1 Like

The state of the economy would spell disaster for those who choose to expand too quickly,

If they are hellbent on having a PNG side then admit them in 2025 or 2026 with both a NRL and NRLW side, then add two more NRLW expansion sides in 2025-2026.

Then announce the next two sides to be admitted to the NRL and give them some runway to work with in regards to finances and team rosters. Introduce them in 2026-2028.

The aim should be a NRL and NRLW competition both with 20 teams by 2032.

1 Like

Just on PNG Hunters NRL side bid, I have to say I am amazed about the whole story thus far.

Could you have ever imagined that our little sport could help with international diplomacy and bring together a nation. The PNG bid has been deemed so significant it has the Australian Government tabling a package which would see $60 million per year injected in to the country over 10 years.

Not just that it give pathways for PNG Athletes a opportunity to play a professional sport on the big stage and funding into junior sports will provide the youth some good community structure.

I have my concerns over the logistics, but with the money been thrown at this, I’m sure they can resolve those problems.

If 2026 is the goal they will need to announce the team this year.

I think this should be part of a larger strategy of 20 teams by 2028.

This should also be paired with a program that supports and promotes and increase’s junior rugby league participation rates.

To be honest if we are serious about being a National league then they should look into putting teams in Perth and Adelaide.

1 Like

Agree with the next team being announced as soon as possible if they want them to kick off by 2026. They need to be given a full year at least to prepare. They should open for tenders before the season starts, and make the announcement by the end of the season, maybe as part of the Grand Final Day program.

20 teams by 2028 is probably a bit of a stretch, but by 2032 to coincide with the Olympics is definitely doable. It will also give the Dolphins & whoever #18 are a bit more time to settle in before further expansion.

Agree with Perth & Adelaide being priorities. I’d give preference to them over PNG at this stage, who I see more as more of a political move than anything else. Not a fan of the idea of basing PNG in Cairns either, it almost defeats the purpose of having a PNG team. Their time will come, but best to wait until it is viable to have a team there full time.

The idea of a conference system comes up every now & then in discussions about future expansion. This example from the NFL this year show exactly why I’m against it. There is always the possibly of a big difference between conferences giving advantages to the teams in the weaker conference.

Conference systems can cause imbalance as you you allude to, especially if the conferences are pre-determined due to geography.

There are number of solutions to this;

Firstly if you were to start a conference system from scratch (e.g no historical reference such as in NFL), the the conferences can be determined pre-season, base do. The previous seasons standings. Such as team 1 into conference A, team 2 into conference B etc.

Secondly in the finals format, you can select the top 8, from the first 2 highest teams from each conference, then the next 4 highest teams across both conferences. This largely eliminates a conference imbalance leading to dud teams in the finals and is used in most major world cups and championships.

Finally to truly sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak, you can also schedule mid season inter-conference games, possibly with higher points awarded for a win (or an away win). Inter-conference games should be randomly drawn to remove bias.

In the event of a 20 team NRL, this would lead to;

18 round home and away season for each conference.
6 round mid season inter- conference games (more or less could be scheduled based on season length requirements.

24 rounds total (plus 3 Origin stand alone / bye weekends).

Then the usual 4 week finals series. Top 4 spots secured by the top 2 teams from each conference. Bottom 4 spots gain wildcard entries based upon combined conference points and for/against.

1 Like

Good ideas if we were to go down the conference route.

I’d still prefer to have one competition ladder, and with all teams playing each other at least once.

Dividing teams up to determine the draw is about as far as I’d take it. For example when we go to 18 team divide into 3 groups of 6 based on ladder position from previous season. Play everyone once along with the teams in your group a second time for a 22 round season. If we want another 2 games added, play one team from each of the other 2 groups a second time, again determined by ladder position from the previous season.

Unfortunately the competition is too big for a full home & away draw anymore. The next best solution is to play everyone once, which doesn’t give us a long enough season at the moment. Determining the draw by ladder position from the previous season is the fairest way to do things in the interim.

This is my concern regarding a PNG Franchise team, especially playing out of Port Morsby.

Security and welfare of players are a real concern.

Shops were set on fire, ATMs were ripped out of walls and citizens were shot as crowds of angry residents took to the streets as part of the unrest.

There is a fragile peace in the capital, though security firms are still warning things remain unpredictable and volatile, as Prime Minister James Marape tries to re-establish faith in the country’s security and the government.

The Marape government has placed the blame over the riots squarely at the feet of the nation’s police constabulary, many of whom walked off the job in protest over a payroll issue just hours before Port Moresby descended into chaos on Wednesday.

“Not only [have] our security forces failed us but some of them went out of their way to incite or encourage our people to loot,” National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, a coalition partner with Marape, said in a press conference today.

“… I even went to the extent of asking the Australian Government to be on stand-by and I made no apology in that respect, you see I can’t trust our security forces, I can trust the Australian security personnel to come and give us support.”


200,000 members? I find that hard to believe!!!


From the Bears website:

Yeah, I won’t touch on this much. I think I made my point clear on PVL already.

1 Like

I think the new team in need to be Perth. They have so much going for them.

It such an untapped region for talent. They have a reasonably strong junior league and top grade state competition. It’s a great achievement despite the ARLC not helping too much financially. Imagine if they got some decent funding.

The time slot works. The NRL boasts itself as a TV game. It is far better of a TV product than the other codes. Not only putting Perth in gives you another game to sell, the positioning allows you to cram more live games in the prime time window.

They will pull fans. They have a decent UK expat population that would be familiar with the game. Also they have had no problems packing out Optus Stadium for Origin, so there is definitely a place for a team.

There is a gap to thrive. With the decline of Union, as well as the Western Force there is a gap to be filled for a top flight Rugby competition… or Rugby League.


A new bidder has entered the races to be #18:

1 Like