Gold Coast want their own Super15 team

The Gold Coast who are Melbourne’s only real challenger for the Australian 5th franchise in an expanded Super 15, have called upon the Australian Rugby Union to prevent a bidding war by making an immediate choice based on “rugby reasons”.

Gold Coast power broker Terry Jackman who is a good friend of ARU Boss John O’Neill, argued the tourist strip deserved to be the home for a fifth Australian franchise due its superior rugby identity.

What will count against the Gold Coast however is that Queensland already have a Super Rugby team in the Reds who it should be noted finished last for the Australian teams.

Melbourne is AFL mad but offers a far bigger sporting market and are therefore the overwhelming favourite for the 15th licence due to its attractiveness to broadcasters, who will start negotiations with SANZAR for a new five-year deal on June 30.

But Jackman told AAP the Coast, which has one powerful Queensland Premier Rugby side plus its own club competition, deserved to get the nod because it was a rugby heartland.

With time running out for the Coast to put forward a bid to rival Melbourne, which narrowly lost out to the Western Force in 2005, Jackman said the national body needed to make an immediate decision for “the good of the code”.

“I sympathise with the ARU, it’s not an easy decision,” the former ARU director told AAP.

“But I don’t think you can get into a bidding race, I think the ARU has to decide which way to go for the good of the game.

“We’re the third biggest city in rugby heartland and you’ve got to be careful we don’t lose it to the other three codes with AFL, NRL and A-League teams all set up here by 2011.

“If we don’t get a Super 15 side it will be hard to stop the kids going elsewhere.”

The details of the Super 14’s expected expansion to a Super 15 will not be released until Tuesday, after O’Neill meets with chief executives of the four Australian rugby franchises, but a fifth Australian-based team appears certain as it has been agreed that the team will be based in Australia.

South Africa intend to mount a serious bid for that 15th team and have formed the Southern Kings in the Eastern Cape.

Reds coach Phil Mooney is concerned that Australia does not have the depth of playing talent to fill five Super 15 teams.

Mooney’s Reds were the hardest hit by the establishment of the Western Force, which kicked off in 2006, and have spent six straight seasons in the bottom three of the competition.

O’Neill is wary of the same damage to the existing teams and has spruiked the idea of a “hybrid” team including a healthy amount of Pacific Islanders and foreign-based Australians to combine with local players.

Both the Coast and Melbourne are planning on signing up to half their squad from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa but Victorian Rugby Union president Gary Gray wants none of the “hybrid” talk.

Gray was confident the Victorian public would support a rugby side, as well as NRL heavyweights Melbourne Storm, but they needed to know it was their own side.

“We need to be very careful,” he said.

“We need to make sure we’re not just planting some cobbled-together team.

“For this team to be given the best chance for it to work down here it’s got to have its own culture and own roots in Melbourne.”

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