NRL competition faces revolution after expansion report

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Damien Cook (pictured left) embraces teammate Adam Reynolds (pictured right).
The NRL are reportedly looking at a conference-based style competition. (Getty Images)

The NRL is reportedly tossing up a conference-based structure in an expanded competition, which would be the biggest shake-up in the competitions history.

Under a new model, the competition would increase to 18 teams with a new side in Brisbane and New Zealand to make two conferences of nine teams.

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In turn, that would allow all nine Sydney clubs to play each other twice each year as well as nine non Sydney teams including Newcastle and Canberra.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald report, that would allow each team to play others in their conference twice and those on the half of the competition once from 2023.

Reports suggest the option was floated during the Covid-19 shutdown last year, when organisers were thinking of ways to restart under a shorter model.

But while administrators eventually took a different option, they never completely went away from the idea.

One of the positives is more local rivalries, which would most likely lead to an increase in attendances at stadiums.

It would also theoretically even out the fixtures, considering it would see each team only plays eight others twice.

Wayne Bennett previously endorses model

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has long been a fan of the idea, and backed it in an interview last month.

"I think they should play in conferences, I've always argued for conferences," Bennett said at the time.

"I think Sydney do themselves a great disservice by not playing each other on a regular basis home-and-away because that's what the fans want in Sydney.

"(Sydney fans) embrace the national league but they also embrace the club rivalry and unless you're living in Sydney you don't realise how strong it is."

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett (pictured) looks on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett (pictured) endorsed the idea of a conference-based style competition last year. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

One of the issues with the current draw is the uneven fixture list.

In this year's draw, Canterbury only play rivals the Sydney Roosters once, while Manly and Cronulla is another grudge match not played twice.

One added value for administrators could be a finals series, which could run like a Super Bowl System.

Two conference finals winners would play off in a decider for the NRL Premiership.

with AAP

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