NRL officially unveils 17th team for 2023

Publish Date
Thursday, 14 October 2021, 8:38AM
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Every NRL club will get two byes with an extra 12 games across 26 rounds to be played form 2023 after the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) confirmed it had approved a 17th team licence to "The Dolphins".

The Redcliffe-based outfit beat out rival bids from the Firehawks and Jets to become the first new NRL team since the Gold Coast Titans were admitted in 2007.

"Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game. The NRL Telstra Premiership will expand to 17 teams in 2023, and on behalf of the commission I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence,'' ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said.

"I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions. All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland."

The NRL's expansion assessment committee met last Friday and the seven-person panel spent 90 minutes analysing the merits of prospective franchises the Dolphins, Jets and Firehawks.

But the Dolphins proved the standout and the new team will be based at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, and will join the competition from 2023.

The Dolphins have agreed to invest $1m per annum on grassroots rugby league and pathways as well as an additional $1m per annum on women's rugby league pathways and development.

The expanded 17-team competition means the NRL premiership season becomes a 26-round competition, with every team continuing to play 24 games. All teams will receive two byes during the season, with the number of regular season games increasing from 192 to 204.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the expanded competition would create more opportunities for the rugby league ecosystem.

"This is an exciting day for our game. There will be more opportunities for our players in 2023, more games of rugby league to watch for our fans and more investment in pathways for our grassroots participants,'' he said.

"It's also an excellent outcome for our partners and sponsors who have additional exposure from 2023.

"The structure of the season means there will be 12 more games played every year and all clubs will receive two byes, which assists the workload management of our players."

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission