NRL expansion news: Benji Marshall on Tigers, New Zealand team
Wests Tigers veteran Benji Marshall says relocating the joint venture would be shattering for their fans, and that New Zealand’s South Island is crying out for an NRL side.
The debate about expansion and relocation has reignited, with the governing body at the end of the year to deliver a report into the viability of adding a 17th and 18th NRL franchise.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has said that Rugby League Central no longer has the money to prop up struggling franchises – placing relocation on the agenda.
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Should any side hit the rocks financially, it is likely the NRL would seek to move them interstate, away from the crowded Sydney market.
News Corp on Thursday reported that, as part of ongoing negotiations over perpetual license agreements, the NRL was seeking greater power to move troubled clubs.
The Wests Tigers, Manly and Cronulla are mentioned as clubs most likely to be moved. However, the Sharks last week secured their future after announcing a $40 million deal to develop their Woolooware base.
“I feel like we’ve got too much of a membership following in Sydney, we always get good crowds to our games,” Marshall told AAP.
“I don’t think it’ll be us. I would be shattered. To move a club away from their fan base … I think adding more teams is a better idea, not break the hearts of fans.”
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But Marshall, a 26-Test Kiwi veteran, said he wanted a second New Zealand side – either in Wellington or the South Island – considered.
“New Zealand is crying out for another team,” Marshall said.
“Next year 50 per cent of the players will be Kiwi or Polynesian. In that respect the depth of rugby league in New Zealand is getting greater.
“In New Zealand, there’s only the Warriors. So the North Island and South Island both go for the Warriors. If you put a team in the South Island or in Wellington, all those south cats will flip.”
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold also predicted league-mad Queensland fans would embrace a second Brisbane side.
“I am sure the game would probably want a game a week at Suncorp Stadium,” Seibold said.
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Originally published as Benji pleads NRL not to ‘break the hearts of fans’, backs NZ expansion