Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has urged the NRL to take a cautious approach to expanding into Western Australia.
Rugby League continues to extend its reach far away beyond its eastern seaboard home, with nib Stadium hosting Perth’s first ever rugby league international between Australia and New Zealand on Saturday.
The western capital’s yet to be finished Perth Stadium will host a State of Origin fixture in 2019, as the ARL Commission continues to search for new markets.
But on the back of the failed Western Reds experiment, Meninga said rugby league needed to work harder to create fertile ground for a top level side to be based in Perth.
“I think there will be eventually a team here, but when I’m not quite sure,” Meninga said.
ARL Commission chairman John Grant has spoken about developing the game, I think that’s a smart play.
“But I think (you need) to develop the game at the grassroots, and get all the participation rates up.
“I think there’s a real focus and a lot of money going to the elite level but there’s also got to be a focus (on grassroots).
“Our game has to have a future and the only way to have a future is to get young kids playing the game.”
There is no doubt there is an appetite for rugby league in the west. The clash between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos at the 20,500 capacity nib Stadium has sold out.
Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith said that was proof the game had a foothold in WA.
“If the interest level is high and the participation is high it’d be great for our game to be playing right across the country,” Smith said.
“It’d be great for our broadcasters. We’ve got a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) coming up and the players are very passionate about growing our game and we’re not just concerned about making money for ourselves, we want our game strong at grassroots level.”