LINKWayne Bennett believes the time is ripe for Brisbane to get a second NRL team
The NRL’s greatest coach Wayne Bennett has broken his silence on the expansion debate to declare it’s time for the code to introduce a second Brisbane team to coexist with the mighty Broncos.
As NRL CEO Todd Greenberg prepares to launch a wide-ranging review of the code, Bennett – Brisbane’s foundation coach – says rugby league can no longer ignore the power of the southeast Queensland market.
The expansion issue has gained fresh momentum in recent weeks, with Cowboys coach Paul Green backing a second Brisbane team and ARLC chairman Peter Beattie declaring the NRL must expand or die.
Bennett has preferred to stay silent on the highly-charged expansion debate. Now the super coach has emerged as a powerful voice.
If anyone is best placed to appraise whether Brisbane is ready for a second team it is Bennett, who delivered all six premierships to the Broncos from 25 years of service before joining the Rabbitohs this season.
Greenberg will deliver a detailed report on the code at the end of this year, including his views on NRL expansion, and Bennett is adamant Brisbane can sustain a second team for the next broadcasting deal in 2023.
“Brisbane is ready for a second team. It needs a second team,” Bennett told The Courier-Mail.
“There are so many areas in southeast Queensland that can sustain a second Brisbane team.
“We can have a Brisbane team playing every week at Suncorp Stadium – how good would that be?
“The reality is no club in Sydney at the moment wants to give up their identity or their place in the game, so that’s the issue for the NRL.
“What I do know is that the NRL should take control and give a new (Brisbane) team two or three years to be ready to get quality players without diluting the product.”
Rugby league’s last experience with a second Brisbane team ended in tears.
The South Queensland Crushers entered the big league in 1995 before being killed off at the end of the 1997 season as part of peace talks following the bitter Super League war.
The Broncos have since enjoyed a 31-year monopoly in the key southeast Queensland market, but Bennett scoffed at suggestions a rival city team would erode Brisbane’s status as an NRL powerhouse.
“The Broncos won’t be affected,” he said.
“They’ve had a 30-year headstart and if they keep working hard, the Broncos will have nothing to worry about. They’ve had 30 years to have a presence in the market.
“It’s nonsense to think a second (Brisbane) team can’t work because of the Crushers. The Crushers would have worked out but then the Super League war happened and they had to get rid of clubs to bring the game together.
“Look at European soccer, they have strong brands and rivalries – Manchester United and Manchester City are big clubs.
“If you bring in another Brisbane team, it would be great for the bottom line. You would be guaranteed two sellouts at Suncorp every year with a genuine Brisbane derby.
“Southeast Queensland is a very big place, there’s more than two million people.
“The area can easily accommodate two Brisbane teams.”
Putting dows his candidacy as inaugural coach of another Brisbane team, or just butt-hurt throwing shade at the Broncos?