The Western Australian government has expressed keen interest in a possible merger with the North Sydney Bears in a bold bid to become the NRL’s 18th team.
Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield of the Daily Telegraph revealed that the Western Australian government is interested in merging with the North Sydney Bears to become the NRL’s next expansion team.
WA Sports Secretary David Templeman and VenuesWest Chief Operating Officer Peter Bauchop flew to Brisbane for Magic Round where he spoke with NRL power brokers about the opportunity to join forces with one of the rugby league’s oldest clubs.
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“The Western Australian government sent their sports minister and the WA venues boss to Brisbane for the weekend to meet with key figures at the NRL and a few club sides, in an effort to look at ways to make a bid. to bring on an 18th team. Rothfield told Sky’s big sports breakfast†
“They reached out to the North Sydney Bears to form an alliance in which they would probably play ten to twelve home games in Perth each year at the rectangular stadium (HBF Park) but four at North Sydney Oval.
“It’s a great move, it’s impossible for the Bears to come back as a single identity because there are too many teams in the league in Sydney right now, nine teams all competing for the same business support.”
The NRL has made it clear that any proposed franchise must generate a new fan base and financial support, and not hinder the support of existing clubs.
“When you think about a government endorsing the team in Western Australia, getting the massive support from the business community out of Perth, having that red and black jersey, having that great brand, having that logo back, it’s a no-brainer to me “I think it would be fantastic for rugby league,” said Rothfield.
“I spoke to some longtime Bears fans yesterday, passionate longtime fans and they seem quite happy with this arrangement, especially that they would get three or four games at North Sydney Oval.”
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Former NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley is leaving the league in 1999 and is excited about the prospect of a Bears return.
“I want to see the Bears back in the league and I don’t care how they come back,” said Daley.
“I think this would be a strong alliance, especially with the WA government standing behind them and that might be the best offer to keep them long term.
“I would love to see it, I think it would be one of the best rugby league stories if the Bears were back in the league.”
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Furthermore, Rothfield used the Melbourne Storm as an example of what rugby league franchise could look like in an AFL dominated state.
“It’s an AFL state, but so is Melbourne, but the Storm has set up a really successful base there without a huge junior rugby league,” Rothfield explained.
“I honestly think it’s a no-brainer.
“I worry that New Zealand has a second side there. We have one team there and they are really struggling, so I think they tick all the boxes.
“Peter Vlandys says wherever he goes, he says every third question from the gamblers is when the Bears are coming back.”
Despite the odd rugby league in Perth, be it State of Origin, the NRL nine or a one-off NRL match, Western Australians have not had a rugby league since the Western Reds left the league in 1997.
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