The jungle drums are beating ever louder that the next team to join the NRL will be from south-east Queensland.
For years the prospective franchises have been jockeying for position.
And in the wake of the NRL’s first all-Queensland grand final, the game’s rich new broadcast deal and pointed comments from ARL Commission chairman John Grant last week, competition is truly heating up.
The Broncos have enjoyed dominance of the market for nearly 30 years, save for the three crazy seasons when South East Queensland Crushers tried and failed to carve out a niche of their own.
But there are a number of options for Grant, NRL boss Dave Smith and strategy guru Shane Richardson to consider for expansion into the south-east when the time comes, most likely from 2018.
The leading contender remains the Brisbane Bombers, a bid headed by Craig Davison, former chairman of the Brisbane Broncos Thoroughbreds, a powerful group of local businessmen with rugby league interests.
The Bombers have been pushing their high-powered case since 2010 and have already been linked to some of the game’s biggest names, including Craig Bellamy, Greg Inglis and even rugby union star Quade Cooper.
The team intends to capitalise on the huge public support for rugby league in Brisbane and would play out of Suncorp Stadium – although earlier this year, bid chief executive Nicholas Livermore said a new ground to be built at Redcliffe could be incorporated in some way.
Where the Bombers are a flashy new franchise aiming to capture support from the big end of town, the Past Brothers NRL bid is very much about community.
Brothers are a QRL institution, having won their last title in 1987 – the year before the Broncos entered the NSWRL.
While they also intend to play the majority of their games at Suncorp Stadium, Brothers have satellite clubs across the country and would play several NRL home matches in regional areas if given the nod.
Otherwise known as the Leprechauns, a Brothers NRL team could also base itself in Logan, the home of the strongest club in the Brothers network.
The Ipswich Jets are in this weekend’s NRL State Championship final and are heavily linked to the bid to bring a team to Brisbane’s booming western corridor.
It is the fastest-growing region in the country, encompassing Brisbane’s western suburbs, Ipswich, Toowoomba and Logan.
Again, Suncorp Stadium would be their home ground, until a boutique stadium in Ipswich is constructed. There is talk of joining forces with a group looking to start up a second Brisbane A-League team and petitioning government to build one.
The wildcard of the lot. If the NRL is looking for an established outfit with its own catchment area north of the Brisbane River and a successful Leagues Club, it’s hard to look past Redcliffe.
The Dolphins are a QRL force with eight premierships to their name and a new 10,000 seat stadium on the way, thanks to $4 million of federal funding earlier this year.