Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys has confirmed plans to expand the league with two new teams by 2030. This would see a Papua New Guinea side and the Perth Bears welcomed to the first-grade league. 

Reportedly, the Dolphins’ success has given the Australian Rugby League Commission confidence that further expansion can succeed. Federal support is in the works with V’landys telling Fox Sports “I’ve also spoken to the Prime Minister about the 18th team. That’s the level we’re at now, we’re at the highest levels.”

Next month, a meeting will be held to discuss whether two new teams can be added to the competition by 2030.

Papua New Guinea will be the first in line to enter the competition, likely based in Cairns, debuting in 2027 or 2028. 

In terms of coaching, there’s only one person in mind. “Naturally, we would love to have Wayne Bennett involved with an 18th team,” V’landys said to Fox Sports.

Australian Rugby League Commissioners Peter Beattie and Kate Jones will be analysing Papua New Guinea’s bid before their inclusion is finalised.

The Perth Bears are the prospective side 19th side, with Perth and North Sydney chiefs discussing a joint proposal. 

Peter Cumins Chairman of a Perth consortium backing the NRL’s West Australian franchise, isn’t impressed with the idea.

He believes Perth’s NRL team could remain independent.

“The people involved in the consortium are West Australians who love rugby league and would love to see a stand-alone team in Perth,” Mr Cumins said to the SMH.

“If we had to make a concession, and a partnership was the only way we could do it, then we would look at that, but there are lots of downsides to those arrangements and the integration with people on the other side of the country.”

Twnety-year-old NRL fanatic Georgia O’Conner agrees with Cumins and is reluctant to support the merge. 

“It makes no sense to converge the teams, Perth has worked to have their own team,” Miss O’Connor said. 

“..doesn’t make sense when they’ve already got fans ready to support a Perth team.”

V’landys is confident that by the end of June, the commission will be in a position to make an official call on the expansion.