Brisbane is a prime candidate for any expansion plans, according to NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg.
Expansion remains a hot topic in rugby league, although the next chance to broaden the game’s footprint is unlikely to come before the next TV rights deal begins in 2023.
In December, the NRL began a widespread 12-month study that included an analysis of expansion and relocation options as well as potential impacts on rugby league’s participation numbers.
“We haven’t landed on what we will do with that yet,” Greenberg said.
“We need to be very careful, very strategic, very considered about what we do and whether we bring in one more team or one more game.
“Those are very different conversations but they have huge monetary considerations for us to think through.”
When asked about Brisbane’s chances, Greenberg added: “I think it’d be a very fair assessment that Brisbane would be a very prime candidate for any discussion we have about the structure of the competition.”
Other Queensland locations, Perth, New Zealand and parts of the Pacific Islands are also expansion options.
Greenberg’s comments have come as the push grows for a second team in the city.
They also coincided with the league announcing it was considering a wildcard system for finals to take the amount of teams advancing to 10 – but it’s not believed the two ideas are linked.
The Broncos have the highest average crowds in the NRL, and their following also makes them one of the most attractive options for broadcasters.
Their region is arguably the biggest in the competition, given both Melbourne and New Zealand are not rugby league strongholds.
“It’s rugby league’s strong area,” North Queensland coach Paul Green said of Brisbane.
“I don’t think there’s too many other sports that challenge in this area. There’s also the greater area, population-base of above a couple of million people there now.
“We’re starting to hit a bit of a critical mass where we probably could support a couple of professional league clubs. Where that would be I’m not sure.”
Green said it wasn’t an easy answer to decide if the team should be a new entry into the competition or a relocating team from one of Sydney’s nine.
“If you look at the business model, relocation would make sense, but if you ask whatever club that’s getting relocated, I’m sure their fans would have a different opinion,” Green said.
“It’s worked in the AFL. Brisbane Lions were relocated and had some success in the early 2000s.”