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NRL news | Redcliffe Dolphins confirmed as 17th team for 2023


By Simon Brunsdon and Brett Graham

The Redcliffe Dolphins have officially won the race to enter the NRL in 2023, with the competition to expand to 17 teams.

The Dolphins – who will now drop Redcliffe from their title altogether – beat bids from the Firehawks and Jets to become the fourth Queensland team in the competition.

A board meeting of the ARLC this morning approved the move, the first time a new club has been admitted since Gold Coast re-joined the competition in 2007.

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The team will be based at Moreton Daily Stadium, but will play most of their home games at Suncorp Stadium, alternating with the Broncos.

“This is exciting because it’s not just about adding a 17th team, it’s about a strategy, specifically in Queensland,” NRL boss Andrew Abdo told media.

“The NRL can get in behind a strategy that is holistic, that covers all corners of the state, that thinks about the growth of the game from the bottom, all the way to the top.

“This was a strategic consideration. It’s been thought about over a number of years. It’s been a very thorough and rigorous process. It has been very heavily researched, it has been data-driven, and that’s why it has taken as long as it has taken.”

NRL admits Dolphins as 17th team

Abdo revealed why the Dolphins had edged out the Jets and the Firehawks to win the licence.

“From a governance and a risk perspective, from a stability and financial diversification of revenues… this is not something the Commission wanted to invest tens of millions of dollars into,” he said.

“We need a club that can stand on their own two feet and have diversified revenue streams and have a plan. A very strong commercial plan.

“It was important for any new club to bring new sponsors into the game, not cannibalise existing sponsors. With the Dolphins we’ve seen the ability of a club to bring in, and have already contracted a naming rights sponsor and several significant sponsors that aren’t currently invested in the game.

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“And we want a team that can be successful on the field very quickly, and what we saw in their proposal were personnel instructions around a team that we believe can perform very quickly at the highest level.

“What we’ve seen from the Dolphins is a plan to grow the men’s competition, the women’s competition, to connect with affiliations throughout Queensland, open opportunities to bring new participants into the game.”

Seven-time premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett is widely expected to lead the Dolphins in their inaugural season.

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The club will be able to approach players from November 1 with a view to signing contracts for the 2023 season.

“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game. I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence,” ARLC boss Peter V’landys said.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions. All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland.”

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