League's big Mal is a huge fan of Ipswich
AN IPSWICH NRL team could be one of the most talented teams in the competition, according to Mal Meninga.
The Queensland State of Origin coach said the western corridor remained one of Australia's sporting nurseries, despite its fading hopes of winning an NRL franchise.
Meninga, who played alongside Ipswich products Allan Langer and Kevin Walters, sang the praises of current local NRL players including Gold Coast Titan Matt Srama and Sydney Rooster Marty Kennedy.
"I think a team based out of here, but playing out of Suncorp Stadium would work really well," he said. "If you included the southern side of Brisbane, like Logan and maybe even Redlands, you'd probably have more talent than on the north side."
Meninga said he believed a team centred on Ipswich could compete with the top teams in the league.
"(Ipswich) has always been a great sporting region, for more than just rugby league.
"You just have to look at how well the Ipswich Jets went this year, with almost no support from an NRL club, to know how good a rugby league area this is."
Despite his belief in the viability of a team in the area, Meninga said he couldn't see expansion happening for at least five years.
"I'd expect that it probably wouldn't happen until at least 2017-18," he said.
His comments are in line with ARLC chairman John Grant who told the QT there wouldn't be expansion during the new broadcasting deal.
In Ipswich for a Safe Work Week function Meninga put some of Ipswich's leading business men and woman a taste of the highest levels of rugby league.
He led the group on a training session, including passing skills and a game of touch football, before speaking in his role as a Safety Week Ambassador.
"I'm really enjoying my role as a safety ambassador," he said. "It's a worthwhile asset for every business so it's great to see people coming here and getting involved in Safe Work Week."
"It's a pretty crucial area for any business. This is a leadership forum regarding health and safety so we're hoping to encourage the business leaders in this area to really take it on themselves."
The morning saw around 150 registrations from Ipswich business leaders.
Meninga Fact File
- Meninga played for Brisbane Souths, St Helens and the Canberra Raiders from 1986.
- Meninga has coached Queensland to six straight State of Origin series victories.