As Papua New Guinea is pressing their case for an NRL team, former Kiwis coach Tony Kemp believes the Crusaders should make their bid for an additional NZ franchise.
Kemp has long advocated for a second Kiwi team and feels that the budding connection between Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and Craig Bellamy from the Melbourne Storm may be the perfect starting point to get the ball rolling.
Few keen viewers at Melbourne Storm training this morning. Entire Crusaders coaching group here, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie also in attendance. Pretty decent coach’s brain to pick in Craig Bellamy pic.twitter.com/BfboScU65R— Ollie Ritchie (@OllieRitchie1) April 24, 2022
“Everybody knows that there should be another franchise in New Zealand,” Kemp said on SENZ Breakfast.
“I think you can’t go past the Crusaders. The setup … everything is there. The DNA, the model … the Crusaders should bid for an NRL franchise.
“It’s 2022. Forget the rugby/rugby league argument. Make a really smart decision, and make it an overall decision to say, ‘Right, we’ve got the best players in both codes coming down to the Crusaders’.
“Bring them down to Christchurch and give them the DNA and I tell you what, they’ll be like a Melbourne (Storm).”
Co-host Riccardo Ball shared a similar sentiment regarding a second NRL franchise in NZ, however he feels that utilising the whole South Island would be more effective from a talent and promotional standpoint.
“The Crusaders have got everything there. They’re set up; they’ve got the structure, they’ve got obviously this great relationship with the Melbourne Storm … they know how rugby league works, how NRL clubs are structured,” Ball said.
“I don't know if I would go with the Crusaders as naming their NRL team. I'd go something like … for example the Southern Sting, and then you own the South Island.
“(That way) you can play in Nelson, you can play in Dunedin, you can play in Christchurch. You could even play in Wellington and still be the Southern … whatever it happens to be.
“Then it’s the Auckland Warriors and the Southern team.”
A second franchise would allow more players to stay on NZ shores, and would make a State of Origin style competition feasible, something Kemp is keen to establish.
“What it then leads into is our own State of Origin, North and South,” Kemp continued.
“You think about it from a State of Origin perspective where you play State versus State, if you put another team down in the South Island then you’ve got Island versus Island.
“You go to the NRL and you say, ‘The best players in the North Island in the NRL get picked in the Northern side and the best players from the South Island get picked in the Southern side,’ and then you create your own Island of Origin.”
As yet, the Warriors remain the lone NZ NRL team, however, talk of additional teams may promote the South Island as a frontrunner for another Kiwi franchise.