Expansion is the buzz word in Rugby League at the moment, with the likes of Toulouse and Toronto looking to get into Super League and even talk of a new franchise in New York.
At this moment in time though the side with the best chance of being the next side to enter our Premier competition from outside the M62 corridor could be a team that only left it a few years ago, London Broncos.
Before the season started all the talk around the Championship was of who’d come top between Leigh and Toronto, but things may be going a different way.
Now don’t get me wrong it’s still only February and with a new Coach to be added I’m sure the Centurions will be up there after the clocks go forward and with Rowleys Wolfpack playing their last 12 games at home they should join them.
Yesterday though whilst Leigh were losing to 12 man Toulouse, a result which brought about the resignation of Neil Jukes, the Broncos were producing the performance of the season so far in dismantling the Trans Atlantic raiders from Toronto.
We last had the side from the capital in Super League in 2014 when they were relegated, along with Bradford, as the competition went from 14 teams to 12.
It was a disastrous year with 1 win from their 27 games, that being against a Leeds side preparing for Wembley
Whether we like it or not for column inches in the tabloids a side in the South is crucial to promote the sport, and it now looks a real possibility.
That being said they have to earn, instead of being given the right to be there, and things look good at the moment. I certainly think the Super League fans have missed the annual jaunt to support their side in the South East.
An opening day win over Barrow seemed, at the time, expected but performances since by the Raiders have shown even that win to be impressive as they have drawn with Toronto and beat the Centurions.
They followed this up by a gutsy win at Dewsbury and a home win over Featherstone, one of their rivals for a top 4 spot.
Still the Broncos were somewhat under the radar as attention focused on the poor run of Jukes Centurions, but that all changed yesterday. A 47-16 win over the big spending Wolfpack has probably made London the team to beat in the Betfred Championship and put them on course to go back to the top flight.
Whether the Broncos current home, the Trailfinders ground in Ealing, with a capacity of just over 3000 will be big enough for Super League is a matter for another day but as things stand that decision could be made sooner rather than later.
Obviously, unbelievably, we still don’t know the structure for 2019 so this could all be irrelevant but if the qualifiers are still the route to the promised land no-one will want to come up against the Londoners in the middle 8.
They were quoted at around 66/1 to finish top after the 23 regular season rounds as punters looked elsewhere but they are now 4/1 third favourites to go into the middle 8 with the Championship hubcap in the trophy cabinet as they are making people sit up and take notice.
Not that this should come as a surprise, the Broncos have finished 2nd the last 2 seasons and been competitive in the 8’s but they look set to go one better this year and put in a serious challenge for promotion.
With a squad boasting the likes of Jarrod Sammut and Alex Walker Coach Danny Ward has a squad well capable of mounting a real challenge, with expansionists looking for a team across the pond Super League could instead be gatecrashed by a team from down the M1.