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States a springboard for wannabe NRL clubs

NZN 17/11/2016 Vince Rugari

Aspiring NRL teams like the Brisbane Bombers should enter a team into rugby league's new-look second tier instead of pushing for direct entry, NRL head of football Brian Canavan says.

Canavan has declared expansion of the NRL is "off the table", but expansion of the Intrust Super Cup in Queensland and NSW's Intrust Super Premiership is very much up for discussion.

Those competitions will take on added importance from 2018 as the NRL phases out the Holden Cup and replaces it with under-20s leagues in each state.

By 2022, rugby league's second tier could include more teams from regional areas, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Pacific Island nations and even a second New Zealand team, all of which have been earmarked as potential new sides by the NRL.

But it could also serve as a springboard for new entities like the Bombers, who have been pushing for a spot in the NRL for several years, only to have been repeatedly turned away by a reluctant governing body.

Asked if the Bombers would be welcome to apply for an Intrust Super Cup licence, Canavan said: "That would be a more appropriate way to go about it."

"(If you) develop from the bottom up, that ensures sustainability for the future rather than just be a one-out club.

"It builds the capacity, builds the brand, builds a player base, an administration base - all that ready to go for the next level."

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant said last year the NRL's 17th club would likely come from south-east Queensland.

However, the NRL has since gone cold on the idea of expansion in the short term and Canavan said there would be no new additions for several years.

"Expansion at the NRL level is off the table. That's not to say it won't come back onto the table at some stage into the distant future," he said.

"But expansion is on the table at the second-tier, state cup levels, and if we can accommodate affiliate states ... that widens our base.

"Then, if we wanted to expand way down the track, we've got a bigger base, a bigger pool of players to call upon to advance the competition."

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