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Iconic rugby league club on the brink of return to elite game

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An iconic side in rugby league history may be about to return to the top level of the sport, as NRL gears up for another expansion side.

The Dolphins became NRL’s first team to join the league since 2007 last year, as Queensland Cup side Redcliffe Dolphins were granted a licence to join the league.

So far, it has been a success, with the side – coached by legend Wayne Bennett and captained by Jesse Bromwich – currently in sixth place in the league.

Recently, there have been suggestions that NRL is considering an 18-team, or even 20-team, competition, split into two conferences.

Proposed locations for an 18th team include Adelaide, currently without a team, and even Papua New Guinea or Fiji –  or New Zealand, to create a rivalry with NZ Warriors.

Now, it seems that a frontrunner has emerged, which is a familiar name to many fans of rugby league.

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Kruise Leeming

Iconic rugby league club on the brink of return to elite game

Reports from News Corp suggest that a deal is close to being agreed to bring the North Sydney Bears into NRL.

A first-grade team until 1999, the side were a mainstay in the NSWRL and ARL before a short time in NRL.

They also saw one of the greatest wingers of all-time grace the field for them, as the club produced Ken Irvine , who made 176 appearances for the club and scored 171 tries in his time there.

Their downfall was due to the North Sydney Oval being deemed unfit for NRL, so they assumed a nomadic position before an ill-fated merger with Manly Sea Eagles.

Since then, they have been a feeder club for various NRL teams and compete in the NSW Cup – currently sitting top of the table.

It now seems they’re set to join the league in the coming years as an expansion side in Perth, Western Australia: around 4,000km from Sydney.

The bid consortium’s chairman. Peter Cumins, has penned an open letter, saying: ”It is expected that a successful bid will be announced towards the end of this year and that team will be playing in the 2027 season.

”The WA bid consortium will be required to raise $30 million to support the bid and to provide the NRL with a comprehensive plan…You will have seen a lot of press about a potential marriage/partnership with the Newtown Jets or North Sydney Bears.

”I can confirm that I met recently with both clubs to see if an agreement can be reached that satisfies the ambition of all stakeholders. Whatever the outcome of these discussions you can rest assured if our bid is successful, it will be a WA team that we can be proud of.”

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