Brisbane Tigers launch bid to become NRL's 18th team

·2-min read

History, heritage, a shiny new stadium and financial backing to rival the Broncos are behind Brisbane Tigers' fight to become the NRL's 18th team.

The 106-year-old club on Wednesday officially launched their bid to become the fifth Queensland NRL team, two years after their Firehawks' campaign was pipped by Redcliffe's Dolphins.

This time the Tigers, known as Easts until their 2020 name change, will lean into their rich Brisbane rugby league history.

And their beefed-up bid has the added backing of a $10 million upgrade of their Langlands Park base, on the southside fringe of Brisbane's CBD.

The consortium is open to a name change to avoid a clash with Sydney's Wests Tigers, but the Firehawks name is unlikely to be reprised.

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys is keen to add an 18th team as early as 2027 as part of a new TV rights deal, with an Australian government-backed Pasifika franchise based in Cairns one contender already floated.

A second New Zealand-based team, the Brisbane Jets, a Perth presence and the return of the North Sydney Bears are other potential options.

But the Tigers' bid chairman Shane Edwards said the Dolphins' successful arrival at NRL level proved another Brisbane team was needed.

The club would provide a cross-river rival to the Broncos while also looking to capture the growing west of the city towards Ipswich.

And the bid has the backing of the Easts Leagues Club juggernaut, while there are two more stages of development planned for a home ground that will host NRLW games later this year.

Edwards wants to target the growing southwest corridor that takes in the Logan and Ipswich regions.

He said nine game-free weekends at Suncorp Stadium in 27 rounds this season was evidence that the venue could support another team.

And he claims the bid's balance sheet, assets and financial forecast rivals that of the Broncos and Dolphins.

"We're very confident with our backing and our history," he said.

"This Brisbane Tigers group have always had a desire for the southside of Brisbane to be represented in a national competition.

"This club is an NRL club to be."

Broncos coach Kevin Walters tried to laugh off the latest Queensland expansion effort before agreeing the long-standing club's bid had merit.

"How many do they want? I'm still getting over Redcliffe coming in," he said.

"In fairness to the Tigers they've been a strong club for a long time, a lot of history and heritage at the Tigers.

"And I'm sure we could accommodate 10 teams here (in Queensland). People just love their footy so much.

"They've proved that with the Dolphins coming in. (If) another team comes in, bring it on, let's go."