CQ NRL bid team’s Denis Keeffe.
CQ NRL bid team’s Denis Keeffe.

CQ NRL bid a frontrunner

CENTRAL Queensland is leading the race for NRL inclusion after a meeting with the sport's powerbrokers last week.

That was the impression CQ NRL Bid Team chief executive Denis Keeffe was left with after a full-day of meetings at NRL headquarters in Sydney.

Keeffe is confident the region's bid team is compiling a compelling case, going well beyond the efforts of rival bids.

The bid team was armed with exciting concept drawings of how it would like a new Rockhampton stadium to look, detailed data of Central Queensland's market conditions which will form part of an in-depth business plan, and is looking at developing a Regional Education Vocational Sports Academy.

Statistics showing Central Queensland is well ahead of rival areas in key drivers such as the size of its labour force and disposable income per household were also shown to the NRL team.

The bid team engaged design company Populous to help develop concept drawings for a stadium.

The NRL told the bid team selection criteria for inclusion would be available later this year.

“I think we shocked them a little,” Keeffe said.

“I'm sure we moved up the ladder in their estimation.”

He said while some rival bids were selling their inclusion based on the team it could build, CQ's bid was “way beyond that”.

“We know what an NRL program will deliver to our community, but we have to show what we can do for the NRL,” Keeffe said.

He said bid chair Geoff Murphy spent one-on-one time with NRL boss David Gallop.

And NRL powerbrokers want the bid team to start delivering specialised NRL projects across the region.

“We have been elevated to a de facto NRL status.”

The NRL told the bid team to deal directly with them and not the independent commission, which will plot the future of the game.