THE big question on everyone’s lips since the Central Highlands hosted NRL chief executive David Gallop’s visit was, “what was needed from the region to turn Central Queensland’s NRL Bid into a reality?”
Put simply, Gallop wanted to see two things - club viability and something the new club could give back to the NRL - and in the eyes of CQ Bid chief executive Denis Keeffe, half of that mission is already complete.
Moments before the touring contingent departed for the next leg of the CQ visit on Tuesday, and within Gallop’s first few hours in the region, Keeffe spoke candidly about CQ’s strong chances.
“I think he’s convinced of the viability,” he said.
“Gallop said his eyes have been opened and that’s exactly what we want. He hasn’t said anything negative – it seems we’re right on track.”
The driving force behind rugby league in this country, Gallop believes in the localisation of the sport – which is music to the ears of the CQ Bid team.
“Unlike some other codes, ours is a game where local kids can become local heroes… that’s a critical part of the CQ proposition,” Gallop said.
“All those kids can have that opportunity.
“The nursery that this place is, is certainly a plus for the region.”
Another motivating factor behind the CQ Bid’s confidence in gaining a team was the strength of local industry, mining in particular. Gallop was briefed extensively on the region’s strong corporate network currently operating to support local sporting organisations and their readiness to back an incoming Central Queensland NRL team.
The importance of which Gallop appeared acutely aware of.
“Sports follow industries and coal has been a big part of that,” he said.
Gallop warned that while the NRL would be accommodating to the new NRL franchise wherever it was based, its funding - like any business - would be constantly under review and a line in the sand needed to be drawn.
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