Ikin: QRL backs Brisbane Tigers to be 18th NRL team

·3-min read
Darren England/AAP PHOTOS

The Brisbane Tigers' NRL bid has received a huge boost with newly minted Queensland Rugby League CEO Ben Ikin declaring his organisation is behind their quest to become the competition's 18th team.

The 106-year-old Tigers launched their bid on Wednesday with the added backing of a $10 million upgrade of their Langlands Park base just outside the city's CBD.

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys is keen to add an 18th team as early as 2027 as part of a new TV rights deal.

"We've had the Gold Coast Titans and the Dolphins. Queensland seems to be the place to expand the game," Ikin said.

"The Brisbane Tigers, formerly the Easts Tigers, have a long history in this jurisdiction. The QRL are right behind their bid to be the 18th franchise."

The Tigers' bid also incorporates a plan to develop the game in Brisbane's western corridor and in areas such as Ipswich, Logan and Toowoomba.

"What we have got is a really sound base to work from with the Brisbane Tigers," Ikin said.

"Based on what I know, they are very keen to push out through that western corridor which has been very important to this organisation.

"Ipswich Jets have been a great brand in Queensland for a long time. The Clydesdales have come and gone a couple of times but we are back in Toowoomba under the Western Clydesdales brand.

"So if the Brisbane Tigers were elevated to the NRL and were to affiliate out through that region, I think that would be a good thing for the game."

The Canterbury Bulldogs already have an affiliation with the Clydesdales but he said if the Tigers were admitted to the NRL they would be a natural partner.

"I know coming from the Broncos that beyond all the development work that you do for staff and players, what those (Queensland Cup) clubs prize is surplus top thirty players to strengthen their team," he said.

"If the Tigers were here and it was feasible that they could allocate some of their top thirty out to Toowoomba, I think the Clydesdales would welcome that with open arms."

Given the Wests Tigers are in the competition, the club would also need to change its name.

Ikin did also speak about the mooted Australian government-backed Pasifika NRL bid that he said would likely be linked with Papua New Guinea.

The QRL has fostered the game in Australia's near neighbour with the PNG Hunters playing in the Queensland Cup.

"This organisation is proud of the work that we have done with the PNG Hunters. They are starting to put down real roots in a country that loves rugby league," Ikin said.

"In fact, it is its number one code to the point where they believe they are ready to take a step up."

Ikin said modelling would have to be done to understand how a Pasifika team could work.

"If there's some way that you could engage and embrace at that level the Pasifika element of our game I think that would be wonderful, but if we are in a rush and want to get to 18 teams quickly then I think the logical solution to that is the Brisbane Tigers bid," he said.