Bennett coy as clubs hear expansion case

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Wayne Bennett remains reluctant to confirm his next NRL coaching move as clubs wait to hear in detail why the NRL should welcome a 17th club.

The master coach was on hand to toast Benji Marshall at his retirement announcement on Wednesday, the outgoing South Sydney mentor brushing off questions of his own future in the process.

A six-time premiership winner with the Broncos, Bennett will return to Brisbane next year and has been strongly linked to the top job at an expansion club from 2023.

The well-established Redcliffe Dolphins are in the box seat to win what's become a three-horse race against the Brisbane Easts-backed Firehawks and the Brisbane Jets, which has become a joint bid with Ipswich.

Creating a competitive roster from the outset will be key to the side's long-term success and is understood to be one of the fears held by current club officials.

That's because a poorly performing side would be a ratings flop on a venture designed to boost viewership, subscriptions and sponsors as well as fortify Queensland as a rugby league state.

Why those revenue figures stack up will be detailed to NRL club bosses on Thursday, before a recommendation is made and the Australian Rugby League Commission meets to rubber-stamp the new team.

Set to replace Bennett at the helm of South Sydney, Jason Demetriou told AAP that "it's a no-brainer for a new team in Brisbane to be coached by Wayne".

"He has the ability to attract players first and foremost, like they'll need him to," he said.

"But he knows how to build a club; he's taken four different clubs into grand finals.

"I don't think there's a better coach in the game to start a new franchise."

The winning bid would play almost exclusively out of Suncorp Stadium, with the Dolphins' track record of sustainability and history in its favour.

With eight NRL clubs based in greater Sydney there are murmurs that another Queensland-based NRL team could follow in coming years, potentially in the state's western corridor to counter AFL's advances.

A second team in New Zealand or another attempt to establish a foothold in Perth are also considerations.

The league's confidence in an extra side has skyrocketed in recent weeks, with News Corp set to offer up $100 million in additional TV rights if the game goes to 17 teams.

That money would ensure current franchises do not lose out in club grants, allaying fears they could be worse off with the game's profits split 17 ways.

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