'Exciting moment': NRL makes massive announcement over 17th team

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Peter V'landys during a press conference.
The NRL has confirmed the Redcliffe Dolphins will join the competition in 2023. (Getty Images)

The NRL has confirmed the Redcliffe Dolphins will join the competition in 2023 as the 17th team after the Rugby League Commission confirmed the move.

After a week of speculation, the Redcliffe-based bid was confirmed to become the 17th team - and 34th club in the history of the NSWRL, ARL, Super League and NRL.

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Reports suggest Wayne Bennett could become the Dolphins' first coach in a major move for its inaugural season.

The regular season will expand to a 26-round competition with every team receiving two byes.

There will be 204 games in the 2023 season, an increase from 192.

Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V'landys said it was an 'exciting moment' for NRL fans.

“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game," V'landys said.

“The NRL Telstra Premiership will expand to 17 teams in 2023 and on behalf of the Commission I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions. All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland.”

Bid organisers will now turn to the community to determine their next major steps, including an official name to go with the Dolphins logo before joining the competition in 2023.

Since James Giltinan admitted nine clubs to mirror their rugby union counterparts in 1908, Redcliffe's entry will mark rugby league's 12th round of expansion.

And from Annandale in 1910 to the second attempt at a Gold Coast franchise in 2007, there will be plenty of pundits who will say the Dolphins will have a difficult time making an immediate impact.

That's because rugby league's storied efforts to grow have never been simple - on or off the field.

Be it St George's entrance in 1921 coming 13 years after they were first cleared to join but ran short of players, or Canterbury, Manly and Parramatta pushing for years before finally getting a side.

"It was about the population spread (in the early decades)," historian Terry Williams told AAP.

"They weren't worried too much about the pace of expansion. It was just a natural progression.

"And they were fairly resistant to sharing the pie around.

"For instance when Marrickville wanted to enter in 1912, they had a fairly strong district but I think people realised the implications of it.

"Because even back then there was a cartel running the game."

Redcliffe weary of long-awaited success

Turf wars over district rules were also a factor but not as much of a concern, even if Western Suburbs did famously thank Parramatta in 1947 for leaving them the Sydney suburb of Rookwood, an area geographically dominated by a cemetery.

The game has changed immensely since then, going regional in 1982, to Queensland in 1988 and national in 1995 before Super League altered the game's path again.

All bar the lucky few still share a similar story on the field.

Of the new teams that have entered as single entities since Annandale in 1910, 17 of 21 have suffered a losing record in their first season.

Brisbane, Auckland and Melbourne are the only teams to start well, with the Western Reds also going 11-11 in 1995.

The average wait for a premiership has been 20 years, with the Storm again the only team to lift the trophy in their first couple of seasons.

with AAP

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