Meninga: Brisbane expansion isn’t the answer
MAROONS icon Mal Meninga has warned the NRL of the dangers of introducing a second Brisbane team to rival the Broncos, claiming a fourth Queensland team could threaten the survival of the Titans.
The push for Brisbane to receive another licence is gathering momentum with NRL boss Todd Greenberg, ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie and Cowboys coach Paul Green all seeing merit in a fourth Queensland team.
But Meninga is prepared to go against the grain of popular opinion, with Gold Coast's new performance and culture chief fearing expansion in the key southeast Queensland market could have repercussions for the Titans.
While Meninga can appreciate the merits of relocating a struggling Sydney team to the Sunshine State, the Australian coach says adding a team to challenge the Broncos can be dangerous.
"I wouldn't start up a new Brisbane team unless they had considerable experience of players going there," the NRL Immortal said.
"We have to be sensible (when considering expansion).
"The NRL can't forget the Titans in Queensland. We are realistically the second team in the southeast corner, everyone is crying out for a second Brisbane team but we should be the legitimate option for Queensland kids and players that want to stay home.
"We already have two teams in that southeast Queensland corridor and bringing in another team can't affect the Titans and the importance of that team to the NRL competition."
Several consortia - led by Ipswich, Central Queensland and the Brisbane Bombers - have previously formulated bids for a fourth Queensland licence, but Meninga is adamant the NRL cannot afford more teams.
"My personal opinion is that the competition with 16 teams is maxed out," he said.
"If there is going to be a second Brisbane team, or a Perth team or a second Auckland team, then it has to be a relocated team.
"I see relocation as probably the best way forward.
"At the moment, the competition is working really well. The 16 teams are competitive, so adding 17th and 18th teams would dilute the competition.
"We need to look after our own backyard first. I understand you need to be visionary and you have to expand the game, but if you want a national footprint, then you have to look at Perth (ahead of a start-up second Brisbane team)."
QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher is adamant the Brisbane Broncos can no longer enjoy an NRL monopoly.
"There has to be a second Brisbane team sooner rather than later," he said.
"There are too many teams in Sydney so the answer is relocating one up here.
"I'm talking as a fan now, but the fans up here should be able to see an NRL game at Suncorp every weekend, not once a fortnight.
"My personal view is to get a team up here as quickly as possible. I won't name names but I think there's a few Sydney clubs who should be under threat."