18th NRL club set to be announced as shock contender leads the way

THE 18th NRL club is set to be announced in the upcoming days – and some may find it a shock.

According to the Daily Telegraph, North Sydney and Western Australia are close to agreeing a deal which will see the Bears return as the NRL’s 18th team.

In previous months, much speculation has been written about which side could potentially be given the keys to the 18th NRL spot, with a second team in New Zealand, another in Brisbane and even a Pasifika team being mentioned.

However, the Bears look to be in pole position to secure that $30 million venture as part of an expanded competition.

The Newtown Jets had, at one point, been close to securing a deal with Western Australia, but the Bears have softened their list of prerequisites’ in order to get a deal done, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The two parties held positive talks in Sydney last week with the Bears set to give the Western Australian representatives their revamped proposal this week.

Perth NRL bid consortium chairman Peter Cumins penned an open letter to Western Australian league officials this week, outlining the need to raise $30 million to bring the franchise to fruition.

“You will have seen from recent press articles that the NRL are calling for expressions of interest from bidders for the 18th license as part of the NRL expansion plans to ultimately go to a 20-team competition,” Cumins wrote. “It is expected that a successful bid will be announced towards the end of this year and that team will be playing in the 2027 season.

“The WA bid consortium will be required to raise $30 million to support the bid and to provide the NRL with a comprehensive plan…You will have seen a lot of press about a potential marriage/partnership with the Newtown Jets or North Sydney Bears.

“I can confirm that I met recently with both clubs to see if an agreement can be reached that satisfies the ambition of all stakeholders. Whatever the outcome of these discussions you can rest assured if our bid is successful, it will be a WA team that we can be proud of.”

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