Why Newcastle Knights move to Ipswich won't happen
THE relocation of the Newcastle Knights to Ipswich is not going to happen, but NRL expansion should.
That is the view of Ipswich Jets and Western Corridor NRL bid chairman Steve Johnson in the wake of reports the NRL was considering relocating the Knights to Ipswich.
Johnson put a call into NRL head of football Brian Canavan this morning about the rumours and said Knights fans had nothing to fear.
He added that the intention of the Western Corridor NRL bid remains to one day field a home grown club, which is also what Knights legend Matthew Johns told the QT should occur.
"Relocating the Knights to Ipswich is not going to happen," Johnson said.
"I agree entirely with Matthew Johns because we have always said we wanted to create a unique community-based club anchored firmly in the western corridor and the heartland of Ipswich.
"With a relocated club you bring on board their culture and values and there is no way the NRL would relocate a team from one heartland to another.
"The NSW issue is not that there are too many teams in country rugby league. There are only two - Newcastle and Canberra - but too many in Sydney.
"If they push Newcastle out and then another team develops their juniors, what does that achieve?
"I rang Brian Canavan this morning and the NRL is not going to support it and it is not coming from them."
Johnson said he suspected the rumours started in the commercial arm of the NRL.
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On the subject of expansion, Johnson said the NRL initially kick-started the entire process.
"Originally it was the NRL that lit the fire for expansion when (former CEO) David Gallop had discussions with the Mayor (Paul Pisasale) in Ipswich," Johnson said.
"Then they quietly proceeded for years and encouraged bids to come forward. Then the ARL Commission came in , Sydney clubs got some control back and the NRL said 'we never really asked anyone to make an expansion bid, you've done it off your own bat...' when that was just deflecting from the fact that they truly did.
"At that time the AFL was launching into rural Queensland with great effect and it suited the NRL I presume to look like they were going to expand to keep kids interested in rugby league."
"But there are no conversations at the NRL currently about expansion," Johnson added.
"There are too many doomsayers within NSW clubs that say there is not enough talent for new teams.
"When the true conversation should be that there is too much talent in Queensland and not enough teams here.
"We don't want to buy into the Sydney predicament. They have to sort it out themselves. But we deserve another side in Queensland so our kids don't have to leave home."
Johnson said rugby league was a community based sport "and your currency is community relationships and your work inside it."
"The NRL continues to focus externally and not internally. We need to get back to what rugby league is all about and that is the people playing and supporting the game.
"Television (rights) are a by-product of success, but you don't need to focus on it."