Rugby league veteran Benji Marshall is urging the NRL to consider a South Island team should it relocate struggling Sydney clubs.
The debate about expansion and relocation has reignited, with the NRL to deliver a report into the viability of adding a 17th and 18th NRL franchise.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has said that Rugby League Central no longer has the money to prop up struggling franchises – placing relocation on the agenda.
Should any side hit the rocks financially, it is likely the NRL would seek to move them interstate, away from the crowded Sydney market.
Marshall’s club the Wests Tigers, along with Manly and Cronulla are mentioned as clubs most likely to be moved.
However, the Sharks last week secured their future after announcing a $40 million deal to develop their Woolooware base.
“I feel like we’ve got too much of a membership following in Sydney, we always get good crowds to our games,” Marshall said.
“I don’t think it’ll be us. I would be shattered. To move a club away from their fan base … I think adding more teams is a better idea, not break the hearts of fans.”
Greenberg last week said a second Brisbane team and a Perth side were firmly in mind as part of an expanded footprint.
But Marshall, a 26-Test Kiwi veteran, said he wanted a second New Zealand side – either in Wellington or the South Island – considered.
“New Zealand is crying out for another team,” Marshall said.
“Next year 50 per cent of the players will be Kiwi or Polynesian. In that respect the depth of rugby league in New Zealand is getting greater.
“In New Zealand, there’s only the Warriors. So the North Island and South Island both go for the Warriors. If you put a team in the South Island or in Wellington, all those south cats will flip.”
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold also predicted league-mad Queensland fans would embrace a second Brisbane side.
“I am sure the game would probably want a game a week at Suncorp Stadium,” Seibold said.