Johns reveals radical plan to slash NRL to 12 teams
RUGBY league Immortal Andrew Johns has made a radical call for the NRL to be reduced to a 12-team competition.
The Newcastle legend has outlined his plan to rescue the game, calling for a dramatic overhaul of the competition, an aggressive expansion into interstate markets and a radical shake-up of the number of teams in Sydney.
Johns' bold declaration on Thursday night came just two months after Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie declared the game was heading towards expanding into an 18-team competition in the next 10 years.
Speaking on Channel 9's Immortal Behaviour, Johns suggested the game needed to slash four teams.
"I think we should go down to 12 teams, play each other twice, with semi-finals," Johns said.
"You see some of the games now, and I don't think there's enough talent to go around.
"I think the ideal number is 12."
He said the game needed to become a truly national competition - and believed the game must slash the number of teams in Sydney to accommodate the moves into non-traditional rugby league markets.
While not naming Perth or Adelaide, Johns did specifically list the game's need for a second team in New Zealand, suggesting the Wellington market should host the next NRL team.
"The ideal thing would be we have a team at Western Sydney, an inner-city team, maybe one in Northern Sydney or the Central Coast and we have a team in Southern Sydney which would be St George and Cronulla combined," Johns said.
"I think we need another team in Queensland whether it be in Brisbane or it's a team up near Rockhampton.
"We need another team in Queensland definitely.
"There's too many teams in Sydney."
Beattie had also outlined plans to expand into new markets - but not at the expense of traditional clubs in Sydney.
"I hope in 10 years' time we have 18 teams in the competition and are a much more national game," Beattie told The Sunday Telegraph.
"We want as many women as men playing the game and free-to-air broadcast as well as Fox of the women's competition."
Rival State of Origin coaches Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters earlier this year also called for the NRL to get serious about plans to plant a new team in Perth.
The NRL TV rights deal expires at the end of 2022, meaning it's unlikely any new teams will be added until 2023.
Fittler said it was up to the powers that be to decide the best way to launch a team in Perth - whether it be a relocation of an existing club or a new start-up.
"Rugby league has a small identity here, but it needs a bigger one," Walters said.
"And the only way for that to happen is to get a team based out of here. It will have all of Australia covered then basically.
"We should push hard to try to get a team based out of the area here. Hopefully in the next couple of years, that will be achieved."
- with AAP