Expansion confirmed: Cashed-up Redcliffe Dolphins will be NRL’s seventeenth team
October 12, 2021
The NRL has rubber-stamped the Dolphins for expansion and will announce the decision later this week, with Redcliffe’s cashed-up bid the preferred option for many in rugby league headquarters over the Firehawks and the Jets.
The Dolphins got the tick after an Expansion Assessment Committee meeting last week.
Since the EAC meeting, only Redcliffe has been contacted by the NRL for further guidance in the expansion process. The Jets and Firehawks, meanwhile, have been left in the dark, The Sporting Base has been told, which suggests they have fallen away from the threeway race to become Queensland’s fourth National Rugby League team.
The NRL’s official unveiling of the Dolphins as the league’s next team, the 17th in an already solid foundation of squads, should be announced later this week, as per rumblings coming out of the Queensland Rugby League offices.
The Sporting Base understands Wayne Bennett will take the reigns in the club’s first year.
The cashed-up Queensland organisation already boasts a $20 million kitty, on top of their $70 million worth of club assets, and is expected to splash their cash in the open player market.
The Dolphins are currently based in Redcliffe, around 40kms away from Brisbane’s bustling CBD (and Suncorp Stadium), but are expected to rejig their representation slightly once they join the NRL.
Several options being sounded include Sunshine State and North Brisbane.
It is The Sporting Base‘s understanding that the Dolphins are already eyeing several high-profile Queenslanders to add to their playing roster heading into their first year, including Cameron Munster and Kalyn Ponga, as well as other top stars like Angus Chrichton, Jack Bird, Clint Gutherson, and more.
Perhaps the most surprising early link, however, is Cody Walker. The Bunnies gave up Adam Reynolds to keep their five-eighth, but Bennett wants to reunite with the 31-year-old at the Dolphins.
Terry Reader, the Dolphins general manager, told News Corp earlier this month that the Queensland club is ready to go at the drop of a hat, and are already making moves to prepare for a grand 2023 entrance.
“We will continue to work in the background to be ready to enter the NRL competition as early as 2023 if our bid is successful,” he said.
“The Dolphins believe we are in a strong position to be awarded the new NRL licence. The Dolphins have the strongest financial backing of any bid. We also have the government support, infrastructure, elite-pathways plan, new fan base and an integrated strategy to grow the game in not only southeast Queensland but into central Queensland.
“The Dolphins have a detailed 100-day plan ready to initiate as soon as we are awarded an NRL licence to ensure we can be highly competitive from what could be our very first season in 2023.
“The Dolphins are NRL ready and can start tomorrow.”