NRL head of strategy Shane Richardson will soon unveil his whole of game vision which will determine expansion plans.
NRL head of strategy Shane Richardson will soon unveil his whole of game vision which will determine expansion plans. PAUL MILLER

Queensland clubs remain under represented in NRL structure

THE timeline for NRL expansion and the chances for a Western Corridor NRL team's admission will not be adversely affected by the resignation of NRL CEO David Smith.

But expansion of the game in Queensland remains an absolute must for the game's future.

That is the view of Western Corridor bid chief Steve Johnson, who said an expanded competition would depend on the content of a 'whole of game review' to be unveiled by NRL strategy chief Shane Richardson.

Smith was on the record before his resignation as saying the NRL had allowed for the addition of an extra team or teams in the new broadcast deal which will kick in from 2018.

The whole of game review will also be looking at the second tier competitions such as the NSW Cup and Queensland's Intrust Super Cup, which is where expansion has taken place and will continue to do so.

There is a view that expansion and consolidation of the second tier is more likely in the short term than NRL expansion.

Either way, the whole of game review to be unveiled by Richardson is likely to outline a strategy for the future which will make it clearer what the NRL's intentions are with expansion.

"Our problem is that the whole of game review that (former NRL chief operating officer) Jim Doyle started was supposed to be completed in October of 2014 was put on hold when he resigned, and it was then passed onto Shane Richardson," Johnson said.

"Shane has worked on that all of this year and it is still not completed, so we are still waiting on that to be released next year.

"That impacts upon the Intrust Super Cup clubs and how they are funded.

"It also impacts on expansion because it keeps getting put back until they understand the mechanics of the pathways.

"I have no problem with that because I think our game hasn't focussed enough on grass roots."

Johnson, also the Jets chairman, said the game in Queensland still remained under funded so long as the state had just three NRL clubs.

"It is pretty basic when you do the maths because around 40% of all senior players who play rugby league play in Queensland," he said.

"But we have three NRL clubs out of the 14 that play in NSW and the ACT. When you look at the funds allocated across the game, each club gets $7 million-odd, so Queensland clubs are getting $21 million and the other 11 clubs in NSW and the ACT are getting $77 million. That doesn't add up and it means Queensland is doing a lot of grass roots development and funding it, when a lot of the funding should be done by the game. We are getting screwed over in Queensland when it comes to money."

Expansion or relocation. It is a debate that remains ongoing when it comes to the game's future.

"David Smith was a fan of expansion but he was also looking at the relocation of teams because of the difficulties associated with the number of teams in Sydney," Johnson said.

"But (relocation) is an absolute political minefield.

"The Sydney clubs have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the competition because they are part of the showpiece that creates the funding, but at some point in time you will have to look at the whole model.

"The clubs need to be given KPIs and helped to achieve them. But if they continue to fail then their futures are in jeopardy.

"This is a $1 billion dollar business and you can't prop up those who are not sustainable and don't want to work towards being self sustainable."

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