According to a News Corp report and Triple M’s Ben Dobbin, the Dolphins are the preferred option, beating out the Firehawks and Jets to win the expansion race and will enter the competition in 2023.
It comes after the NRL’s Expansion Assessment Committee met last week to analyse all three bids.
The Jets and Firehawks have not had any further conversations with the EAC, however the Dolphins have had follow-up correspondence in a sign that they will be the bid the EAC recommends to the ARL Commission.
News Corp is reporting the Dolphins will be formally rubber-stamped as the NRL’s 17th team this week after the club meets some key conditions as per requested by the EAC.
Departing South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is the man tipped to lead the club in 2023, however he has reportedly not put pen to paper on an official deal just yet.
The Dolphins will be the NRL’s first expansion team since 2007 when the Gold Coast Titans joined the competition.
The organisation boasts $70 million worth of assets and has $20 million in cash reserves, putting it in the position to be one of the richest clubs in the NRL.
Terry Reader, General Manager of the Dolphins’ bid, told News Corp last week that the club is ready to go should the club get the nod.
“We will continue to work in the background to be ready to enter the NRL competition as early as 2023 if our bid is successful,” he said.
“The Dolphins believe we are in a strong position to be awarded the new NRL licence. The Dolphins have the strongest financial backing of any bid. We also have the government support, infrastructure, elite-pathways plan, new fan base and an integrated strategy to grow the game in not only southeast Queensland but into central Queensland.
“The Dolphins have a detailed 100-day plan ready to initiate as soon as we are awarded an NRL licence to ensure we can be highly competitive from what could be our very first season in 2023.
“The Dolphins are NRL ready and can start tomorrow.”
The Dolphins will be based in Redcliffe, 40km from Brisbane’s CBD, however Reader revealed the club won’t use ‘Redcliffe’ in its name and are reportedly exploring a number of names including the Sunshine State and North Brisbane Dolphins.
However, the organisation will seek input from the wider community before settling on a name.
“Redcliffe is not intended to be in the Dolphins NRL team’s name,” Reader said.
“Redcliffe will be the Dolphins’ NRL team base and present what the Red Hill base is to the Broncos.
“The Dolphins aim to consult with the community, fans and the NRL on a final name that may include a geographical reference suitable for Brisbane’s second NRL team.
“Analysis also demonstrates that The Dolphins will also have the least material impact on the current fanbase and operations of the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans.
“We are confident that our pitch provides the necessary peace of mind, stability and confidence for the NRL to expand the game with the Dolphins.”
Story first published on Foxsports Australia