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Time for Perth to try again

All the pieces are now in place for a Perth side to successfully reclaim a spot in the NRL, according to former Western Reds chief executive Brad Mellen.

Mellen, who had a stint in charge of the franchise during part of the club’s brief involvement in the national competition between 1995 and 1997, said he was confident the mistakes of the past had been rectified as the WA Reds prepare their bid to rejoin an expanded NRL.

Now a highly successful concert and event promoter with Mellen Events, the former Reds CEO said the franchise had been a victim of the Super League war that consumed the code in the mid-’90s.

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But he said a number of other factors that contributed to the club’s demise had now been resolved, including securing a stadium that brought the fans closer to the game.

“The (WACA) ground was probably one of the single biggest problems, because supporters were just too far away from the action,” he said.

“I think nib Stadium is the right size. “They need to set the ground up for 12,000 to 14,000 people and have the ability to sell it out, make it the hardest ticket in town to get a hold of.”

Mellen said a strong and knowledgeable administration, led by current WA Rugby League chief executive John Sackson, would help the club in its bid if the NRL goes ahead with an expected two-team expansion.

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“It sounds like they’ve got the right mix to me,” he said.

“There’s more people that have a good understanding of the game of rugby league now at board level than in 1995.”

He said the franchise would have “no problem” recruiting high-profile players from other states, and said the club would benefit greatly from not having to pay for the flights and accommodation of visiting teams.

“If the (NRL) wants to be fair dinkum about being a national sport, then they cannot do it at the exclusion of Perth,” he said.