SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - 1996: Mark Geyer of the Western Reds looks dejected during a ARL match held in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)

Although a long, drawn out legal battle beckons, the Australian Rugby Union's decision to wrap up the Perth-based Western Force has people talking about a possible NRL side in Perth.

Nobody in their right mind could argue that the Western Australian capital is anything other than an AFL city, but there is a real chance for inroads to be made for the greatest game of all. Far improved NRL coverage combined with the number of ex pats from the eastern states means there is an increased audience for the game.

Throw in the fact that recent games in Perth have been very well supported, the absolutely tasty time-slot that games in W.A present for broadcasters, and even the recent success of other Perth-based sporting sides such as the Schorchers and Wildcats, and there's plenty to like.

The NRL has tried to capture the Western Australian market in the past, and had some early success. Ultimately the Western Reds faded and folded, but there seems to be a far better chance for success now.

I hate to be a buzzkill, but despite the positives listed above, there is just too much going against a possible Perth bid for it to become feasible.

First and foremost, the NRL talent pool is simply too thin right now to justify an expansion team entering the competition.

There are far too many sides struggling to expect another top 25 players to be plucked from elsewhere to allow a Perth-based side to enter the competition.

Unless they timed their entry to coincide with five or six mega stars coming off contract, all of whom were willing to take pay cuts and move west, there's no way of guaranteeing the immediate success needed to captivate a town and ensure they remain on board with a side.

There's little to no chance that the NRL would be willing to introduce a new side without relocating an existing team or introducing a second side.

That would mean there'd have to be another 50 players of NRL talent signed to contracts. With all due respect to the NSW and QLD cup sides, the talent just isn't there right now.

Secondly, as someone who spent an NRL season in Perth, albeit a few years ago, the interest just isn't there.

The Force were up and running, but barely registered a blip in terms of fan interest. They'd be lucky to gain a quarter page article, 10 pages into the sports section, behind the latest goings on of the Eagles and Dockers.

Perth is a rusted on AFL town. The friends I had over there had no idea of the NRL fixtures, let alone interest in watching a game. The NRL games I did attend were with former NSW-based friends. Speaking to people at the games, the crowd was hugely made up of people with similar thinking; NRL-starved fans, with support for existing teams.

I was almost laughed out of a bar close to home at the time for requesting an NRL game be put on at the back of the pub, without sound, during an AFL game that featured two Melbourne-based teams.

A few years has passed, but everyone I have contact with in Perth continues not to care in the slightest whether or not the NRL circus is in town.

Literally EVERYONE in shopping centres has an opinion on derby day. Those who don't follow a team pretend for those two fixtures every season.

It is is crazy. Nothing like it occurs here. Fans are split beyond too many teams. In Perth, it's either the Eagles or Dockers. A few might catch a Force game in the bye round. Hence the folding of the club.

The not so secret to success for the BBL and NBL sides are that their games don't clash with the AFL.

Should a Perth side eventually find its way back into the competition, why should Perth fans get behind the side? They've been burned before in both codes of rugby.

The Force were folded very recently, and everyone is aware of the failure of the Reds.

Perth fans could be forgiven for being cautious and not investing time and love into a club that may not be there in a few seasons, or less.

I'm actually a fan of expansion, but not right now, and not in Perth.

Comments are closed.