Warriors safe but three other NRL teams face axing

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 1 September 2019, 2:12PM
Shaun Johnson's Cronulla Sharks may get the axe. (Photo / Photosport)
Shaun Johnson's Cronulla Sharks may get the axe. (Photo / Photosport)

Three clubs are at risk of being axed from the NRL as the Nine Network pushes for a new Brisbane rugby league team.

The Sunday Mail reports the Cronulla Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles and Gold Coast Titans the teams at risk of being dropped from the competition and a final call could be made as early as December this year.

The Nine Network's director of sport Tom Malone reportedly wants to axe one existing club to make way for a new club in the Queensland capital by 2023.

"That could come from another team being relocated there, or better still another club being discontinued and a new club established in Brisbane," Malone told the Sunday Mail.

"In a perfect world you'd probably have one or two less teams.

"What clubs should go? I'm not going to get into that one. It's a hard decision but probably one that needs to be made in the longer term interests of the game."

Malone said replacing an existing team was a preferable option to expanding the competition, as having 17 teams and a bye each round would increase costs without generating any "incremental revenue".

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg reportedly met with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday to discuss a new Brisbane team, while Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany supported a second team in Brisbane.

However, Delany did not believe in axing an existing club.

"They love their rugby league in Brisbane and it seems a natural fit," he told the Sunday Mail. "You get that intercity rivalry which enhances tribalism and that's ultimately what we want.

"It's all about generating more fans and bigger TV audiences. I don't know if you'd get that real tribal traction with rugby league in Perth that you'd get in Brisbane."