CQ NRL Bid CEO Denis Keeffe.
CQ NRL Bid CEO Denis Keeffe. Contributed

CQ NRL Bid back on front burner with Capras to spread word

THE CQ NRL Bid team is using the Central Queensland Capras brand as a vehicle to spread their message that the region needs an NRL team to fill the current vacuum.

CQ NRL Bid CEO Denis Keeffe said his team had been trying to promote the imitative, and gain support for a Rockhampton-based national rugby league franchise whenever the Capras played out in the region.

"We're using the brand to push into the CQ market...we're working the area and have been to Moranbah, Clermont, Gladstone, Biloela and are going to Blackwater," he said.

The Bid team recently acquired a second leagues club - the CQ Leagues Club Bundaberg, and were trying to facilitate an Intrust Super Cup game at Bundaberg later this season to promote the game in a new market.

"We're also continuing our development program with our 13s, 14s and 15s and trying to organise home games as we want people to appreciate the talent that is here," Keeffe said.

The CQ NRL Bid team was buoyed after hearing rumours that talks of expanding the NRL to an 18-team competition will now take place at the end of 2013, not 2014 as previously stated.

"We employ people in Sydney who are media/PR advisors and they have clients in the NRL that are saying to be ready to present our bid again at the end of the year," Keeffe said earlier this week.

NRL expansion had been put on the backburner after meetings late last year with the ARL Commission set to reconsider the option at the end of 2013.

Strategically however, Keeffe said CQ's Rockhampton-based bid should be a number one priority for the NRL. The sooner they acted, the better.

"The AFL or even the A-League will fill this vacuum and the NRL will never get it back. The NRL's ambitions to secure the heartlands of our game will be lost," he said.

"The AFL has declared that an AFL club will be in place in regional Queensland by 2020 and based in North or most likely Central Queensland. The only way to prevent this AFL attack into the real heartland of our game is to establish NRL in CQ."

The queue of franchises lining up to be a part of the likely 18-team competition is getting longer, with a Perth bid, two Brisbane clubs, Central Coast, Papua New Guinea and the Western Corridor (Ipswich) - along with CQ - all wanting in.

If the rumours were correct, Keeffe said now was the time for the CQ NRL bid to make sure all their ducks were in order, as well as getting Central Queenslanders re-enthused about having a national sporting team.