The NRL recently expanded to 17 teams with the introduction of the Dolphins ahead of the 2023 season.
Now they’re looking for an 18th team and this is likely to be a team from Papua New Guinea which is of course a rugby league hotbed.
However, this could be a massive blow for the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Leigh Leopards with reports in Australia suggesting that this would see this new NRL club go hard for PNG internationals Rhyse Martin, Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape.
Now it seems that this new team could be in the NRL by the end of 2024 as Andrew Abdo said to the Daily Telegraph: “We want to keep growing. We want to keep growing sustainably. The Commission want and are engaged in growing both the men’s and women’s competition. By the end of 2024 we will know what it looks like for an 18th franchise and potentially beyond that. And going from 10 to 12 franchises in the women’s competition.”
On top of this he addressed whether or not the NRL will emulate the RFL and introduce new rules to lower legal tackle height to protect players from head injuries.
He said: “We have to constantly think of player wellbeing. We have a framework for that; prevention, dedication return to play and research. That last point is important. We will always look at data and if data says there are things we need to adjust in the game we will. I am not going to comment on what other sports are doing. We look at it but we have to do what’s right for our sport.”
When given two wishes for the 2024 season, he said: “I want the game to continue to grow and thrive. My wish would be another exciting, compelling football season. We are sitting here having a coffee and our numbers are up, we have more fans and we pulled off an exciting first premiership game in America. Then I would be enjoying my coffee with you.”
It is set to be a big year for the NRL who are set to test America and maybe even expand their competition.
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