Johnathan Thurston's hopes for NRL expansion.
Johnathan Thurston's hopes for NRL expansion.

JT backs Ipswich as NRL’s new home

QUEENSLAND champion Johnathan Thurston has backed high-level moves to bring a second NRL team to Brisbane, and believes Ipswich is the perfect target market to rival the Broncos.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg is three months away from tabling his code-wide report, and he gave Queensland fans fresh hope on Monday when he revealed a second Brisbane team by 2023 was a "realistic" option.

The ARL Commission has identified Redcliffe as one genuine candidate for another licence, but Thurston is adamant the NRL must go west to the region that produced Broncos greats Allan Langer and Kevin Walters.

JT reckons Ipswich has all the talent the NRL needs. Photo: Zak Simmonds
JT reckons Ipswich has all the talent the NRL needs. Photo: Zak Simmonds

 

"I'd base the second Brisbane team in Ipswich," Thurston told Blindside.

"Queensland is ready for another NRL team, 100 per cent. Brisbane sports fans would show up to the opening of an envelope and they would especially get behind another NRL team.

"There's a lot of people that love the Broncos but there's also a lot of people in Brisbane who don't.

"Ipswich is an hour away from Toowoomba. The Bulldogs scouted me from Toowoomba and that region has a strong league following, plus you have the Logan area which could fall under the Ipswich banner if they got a team in.

"Having a second Brisbane team in Ipswich would definitely work."

Western Corridor bid chief Steve Johnson remains committed to the cause.

"We were the first bid team 10 years ago and the same logic that drove us then still applies today - keeping Queensland kids home," he said.

"Ipswich has direct rail access to Suncorp Stadium. We have a proven history of developing the games best - we dominated the Queensland team of the century.

"It's also important that the game protects its flagship the Brisbane Broncos and affords the Titans the chance to survive. We will do that.

"We have our own patch that at the moment is at risk to existing NRL clubs. The Broncos can keep Brisbane strong, the Titans can work to repair the Gold Coast and we will sit happily in the middle with our projected 19000 players."

 

Manchester United’s famed Class of ‘92. Photo: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Manchester United’s famed Class of ‘92. Photo: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

 

BRONCOS LOOK TO RED DEVILS

THE Broncos' qualification for this year's finals series has been inspired by a documentary on English football giant Manchester United.

Blindside can reveal that in pre-season, Broncos players watched The Class of '92, a film that centres on the rise of six Manchester United rookies who would become title-winning superstars.

The group of six who took part in the documentary were David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes - young guns who played a key role in making the Red Devils a premiership force.

Broncos players watched how the Gang of Six went from winning the FA Youth Cup in 1992 to helping Man Utd celebrate five titles in a golden run between 1992-1999.

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold hopes to eventually deliver a similar narrative at Red Hill. Under his youth policy, the likes of Payne Haas, David Fifita, Pat Carrigan, Kotoni Staggs, Matt Lodge and Tom Flegler could be the Super Six that help reprise Brisbane's glory days.

"The sky is the limit for our young guys," Broncos veteran Alex Glenn said. "Anthony Seibold is here for five years and you can see how the boys have adapted to our style of play in just 12 months. The future looks promising."

 

THE SWEET SOUNDS OF MAL

Fox Sports is amping up the finals drama.
Fox Sports is amping up the finals drama.

 

NRL Immortal Mal Meninga is a man of many talents. The Australian coach and Gold Coast Titans culture-and-performance chief has now added another string to his bow - television voiceover star.

Fox Sports is supersizing its coverage for the NRL finals series with new shows, more guests and some cameos from golden tonsils Meninga.

Fox League's "Theatre of the Finals" promotion launched this week with voiceovers from former first-grade player-turned-actor Matt Nable and Meninga, who talks through some of the best moments from the 2019 NRL season.

Aside from Meninga's dulcet tones, Fox will ramp-up coverage with NRL 360 to appear four nights a week during the finals. Matty Johns will also host a new Saturday night show, Finals Footy, with premiership winners Brett Finch and Bryan Fletcher.

As part of their finals blitz Fox League has released a number of special edition movie posters involving this week's finals combatants including Broncos skipper Darius Boyd and Eels rival Clint Gutherson.

"I think 'Gutho' and I would both agree that neither of us have movie star good looks," Boyd said with a laugh.

"We've both had a few too many knocks to have a career in Hollywood, but Big Mal looks pretty intimidating as The Godfather and Yvonne (Sampson) and Matty both look like they've walked off a Hollywood set.

"I'm sure the poster will find its way onto a wall at home at some stage down the track. It's the closest I'll ever get to being a movie star."

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SEIBS THE OLD EEL

WE would love to be a fly on the wall in the Seibold households this week. This Sunday's elimination final between Parramatta and Brisbane will carry extra meaning for Broncos coach Anthony Seiboldand his immediate family.

As a teenager Seibold was a diehard Eels fan who revelled in the glory years of the 1980s when the likes of Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Ray Price, Eric Grothe and Mick Cronin led the blue and golds to four premierships.

Seibold switched allegiances when the Broncos came into the big league in 1988, but to this day his father and younger brother Damien remain passionate Parra fans. At least someone in the Seibold clan will be happy come Sunday night.

 

Ryley Jacks is looking for a new club. Photo: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
Ryley Jacks is looking for a new club. Photo: AAP Image/Darren Pateman


TITANS TOLD TO WALK

THE cleanout at the Titans has begun. Culture chief Mal Meninga is freeing-up salary cap space and playmaker Ryley Jacks is the first to receive a tap on the shoulder as coach Justin Holbrook prepares to lead a new era for the Gold Coast in 2020.

Jacks played in the Titans' final-round loss to the Dragons but has been told he is surplus to requirements. The 27-year-old played 13 games this season, scoring four tries, and while he has been a capable scrumbase option the Titans are backing Ash Taylor, Tyrone Roberts and rookie Tanah Boyd.

The former Storm schemer has fielded fresh interest from Canberra, who were keen to sign Jacks last year before he chose the Titans.

The future is uncertain for Gela-Mosby. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
The future is uncertain for Gela-Mosby. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

 

WHERE NOW FOR NINES STAR?

HE was once an NRL Nines star but Gideon Gela-Mosby's future at the Cowboys is grim. Blindside understands the Cowboys are happy to offload Gela-Mosby and have offered his services to the Titans in a bid to resurrect his flagging NRL career.

Gela-Mosby lit up the Auckland Nines in 2016-17 with his flashy footwork and blinding speed but he has struggled to deliver in the 13-a-side version in the NRL. The winger played just three games this season and produced a nightmare performance in round 21, dropping four balls in the Cowboys' loss to the Broncos.

Gela-Mosby remains off-contract and could find himself in second-tier football if he can't secure an NRL deal.


MINDFUL MATES

DARIUS Boyd is determined to make a difference in the mental health space. In the lead-up to Sunday's knockout final against the Eels, Boyd took time out to visit a Brisbane job site to support Mates in Construction Fly the Flag Day. The campaign promotes mental health on job sites. Boyd met with Woollam Constructions worker Christian Robertson, a former Eels lower-grader who describes himself as a "suicide survivor". Boyd could only chuckle at the giant Darren Lockyer tattoo on Robertson's leg.

SAMI TO CHANGE HIS STRIPES

THE Wests Tigers are circling Titans flyer Phillip Sami. The Queensland Origin hopeful showed his talent three weeks when he unleashed some blistering speed to run down Storm sensation Josh Addo-Carr in a sublime trysaving tackle. Sami, off-contract next year, can field offers from November 1 and while he is happy at the Titans, the Tigers are keen to strike.

Yeah, the Wallabies have worked out for Samu Kerevi. Photo: AAP Image/David Rowland
Yeah, the Wallabies have worked out for Samu Kerevi. Photo: AAP Image/David Rowland

 

WALLABY'S NEAR MISS

SAMU Kerevi is a member of the Wallabies' World Cup campaign starting next week but the departing Queensland Reds skipper could have easily become a Bronco.

The 108kg powerhouse was actually spotted by Broncos scouts way back in 2012 while playing club rugby at GPS. Broncos scouts believed Kerevi's power and hard-running would have made him a lethal force in the centres, but the Fijian-born hulk stayed loyal to the 15-a-side code.

It has proved a wise decision, with Kerevi now a Wallabies star and a $1 million player after signing a lucrative deal with Japanese club Suntory, whom he will join after the World Cup.

The Cowboys might not need Valentine Holmes after all. Photo: New York Jets
The Cowboys might not need Valentine Holmes after all. Photo: New York Jets


IS IT STILL HOLMES?

THE Valentine Holmes NFL saga has taken a compelling twist. North Queensland were considered raging favourites to secure Holmes if he decided to return to the NRL in 2020 but the Cowboys' interest has cooled somewhat.

While not completely ruling out chasing Holmes, the Cowboys have been rapt with the development of Storm recruit Scott Drinkwater at fullback. The 22-year-old showed classy touches at the back end of the season and the Cowboys are now wondering whether to spend their salary cap money elsewhere.

The Cowboys were prepared to outlay $900,000 a season for Holmes but with the former Origin star keen to remain at the New York Jets for the rest of the year, North Queensland may look elsewhere.

 

Shaun Fensom‘s run is finally over. Photo: Peter Wallis
Shaun Fensom‘s run is finally over. Photo: Peter Wallis

 

FENSOM CALLS TIME

ONE of the NRL's great workhorses is officially pulling the pin. Broncos stalwart Shaun Fensom will hang up the boots at season's end after a stellar 10-year NRL career.

Fensom joined the Broncos this season from North Queensland, with whom he suffered a sickening broken leg in the opening minutes of the 2017 grand final.

The injury could have easily ended his career, but Fensom fought back, playing 14 games for the Cowboys last season before joining Brisbane this year where he has been a valued member of the club's full-time roster.

Fensom made his NRL debut in 2009 and went on to play 176 first-grade games with Canberra (139), the Cowboys (35) and the Broncos (two).

Fensom, who turns 31 next month, is the ultimate team man and topped the tackle count at Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup this year with 650 from 20 appearances at an average of 32 per game.

Lewis brought a little of that old royalty back to Brisbane. Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images
Lewis brought a little of that old royalty back to Brisbane. Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

 

RISING

LACHLAN LEWIS: The nephew of the great Wally Lewis is carving out a handy reputation himself. Superb at the back end of the season and showed classy touches in Canterbury's defeat of the Broncos.

ROBBIE FARAH: To play 30 minutes with a partly broken leg against Cronulla was a brave move. Farah isn't everyone's cup of tea but no one can dispute the Tigers hooker's ability over the course of a superb 303-game career.

CAMERON MURRAY: The best pound-for-pound forward in the NRL. Represents the heart and soul of the Rabbitohs with his midfield runs and clean-up work. If he keeps his form, Souths could make the grand final.

WADE GRAHAM: A born footballer. The Sharks veteran has had some tough times with injury but he produced some huge plays against the Tigers to get Cronulla to the finals. A danger man in the playoffs.

Hudson Young’s judiciary hearing didn’t work out well. Photo: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
Hudson Young’s judiciary hearing didn’t work out well. Photo: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi

 

FALLING

ADAM POMPEY: The Warriors club and Pompey should be ashamed for trying to defend Hudson Young over his eye-gouge charge. It smacked of two naughty schoolboys concocting a story to avoid punishment. Thankfully, the NRL judiciary didn't buy Pompey's farcical testimony.

WESTS TIGERS: The NRL's ultimate chokers. The Tigers had yet another chance to qualify for the finals in front of their adoring Leichhardt Oval fans but once again they got stage fright against the Sharks and bombed out.

PAUL GREEN: The Cowboys premiership coach has now presided over back-to-back bottom four finishes and is under mounting pressure to get North Queensland back in finals contention next year.

MATT GILLETT: Has been off the boil for most of the season at the Broncos. That's understandable given his serious neck injury but he needs his best game of the year in his 200th match this Sunday to inspire an Eels boilover.


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