Brothers ready to start formal talks with the NRL
BROTHERS NRL bid founder Justin Barlow says his organisation is ready to begin formal talks with the NRL as he prepares to address a Brothers Confraternity conference in Ipswich on Friday.
The three-day conference will be attended by delegates from more than 40 Brothers clubs from across the state.
The Brothers bid will draw on the vast reach of an established fan base and plans to play eight games in Brisbane and four in regional centres.
"We have in place an engaged and national fan base, and they just need to be mobilised," Mr Barlow said.
"Many people have said that is a romantic notion, but that is actually the biggest asset in driving your bottom line and commercial returns."
Many current NRL stars have played with Brothers clubs including Cameron Smith (Logan), Billy Slater (Innisfail), Daly Cherry-Evans (Mackay) and Sam Thaiday (Townsville).
"As a grass roots organisation we are producing enough talent. That is our base for developing into an elite organisation," Mr Barlow said.
"Now we are ready to start talking in a formal fashion to the NRL to get a bit of guidance on what their expectations are.
"We are still pressing ahead with our strategy of basing ourselves in Brisbane and taking games to fans in the regions.
"We've been in talks with plenty of regional councils and bodies to get their buy-in. We haven't engaged with Suncorp (Stadium) yet, but we are at the point where we can go ahead and start cementing those relationships."
Brothers Confraternity president Brian Roberts is backing the bid and says it will give many junior players a genuine pathway.
"We've got a lot of juniors who play for Brothers, including in Ipswich, and it gives them somewhere they can go.
"It is another opportunity for them to play at the next level and it gives something to Brothers clubs in areas that don't have an NRL side anywhere near them.
"The Brothers Confraternity agreed to the bid in principle at our conference in Toowoomba and will be updated on it at the conference in Ipswich on Friday."