Redcliffe Dolphins chairman Bob Jones says the club’s brand is so strong it will generate support from across the nation if given a license as a second Brisbane team in the NRL.
With an extra team in Brisbane a potential option for 2023 at the start of the next broadcast deal, the Dolphins are also preparing to talk to Wayne Bennett about his coaching intentions when his tenure at Souths finishes at the end of 2021.
The critics of the Dolphins’ bid point to how they are based on a peninsula north of Brisbane, similar to the location of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in Sydney, and would not garner the support of the Brisbane and wider public.
Jones told NRL.com the club would draw its support from across the state and beyond.
“We will be a brand for all of Australia, and for Queensland and south-east Queensland in particular,” Jones told NRL.com as he watched the crowd roll in for the trial between the Titans and Broncos at Dolphin Stadium on Saturday night.
“The Broncos aren’t just a Brisbane brand. There are people all over the country that follow them. I come from a country town in NSW where a lot of people follow the Broncos.”
The strong connection the Queensland public feel towards the Dolphins’ brand was evidenced by a marketing study done 15 years ago.
“The Titans wanted to call themselves the Dolphins initially and we didn’t want them to obviously,” Jones said.
“We got a marketing company to do some research and the Broncos was the No.1 brand in Queensland, the Lions were going well at the time in the AFL and they came in second and we finished ahead of the Bulls, the Reds and the basketball boys [the Brisbane Bullets].
“At the time we didn’t understand how powerful the brand was ourselves. It gave us a lot of confidence actually.”
As for whether the NRL team is called the Brisbane Dolphins, Queensland Dolphins or the Redcliffe Dolphins, Jones said that was immaterial.
“It will just be ‘the Dolphins’. I am an old Eastern Suburbs man but no-one calls them that anymore. They are just the Roosters,” he said.
“Everyone knows we are from Redcliffe and that is where our training base will be initially.
“After Super League the Sydney clubs went away from marketing themselves after suburbs. You don’t hear Manly Warringah much anymore. They are the Sea Eagles, but we will be known as the Dolphins. That is our brand.”
Bennett has come out publicly and stated the Dolphins were the leading candidate of all the expansion bids in Brisbane. Jones confirmed the Dolphins would be keen to talk to him as a prospective coach.
“Wayne is an icon of the game and a smart guy and I think he really nailed it,” Jones said.
“He’s had lots of success and if Wayne is available and wants to keep going you’d be crazy not to consider him.
“It might not be as the coach. It might be in some other role. I’ve known Wayne for a long time and everyone knows he’s a good fella and highly respected in rugby league.”
The Dolphins boast training facilities many NRL clubs would be proud of and a home stadium that will seat 10,000 when an extra stand is added in August.
“On a weekly basis we’ll attract a lot more people than that and while we might play a couple of games here the rest would be at Suncorp Stadium, and the aim would be to fill it,” Jones said.
“For us our bid is a no-brainer. We tick most of the boxes. We probably don’t tick all of them but none of the bids will.
“We are yet to have any dialogue with the new boss of the Commission [Peter V’landys] but hopefully that will happen shortly. I hear lots of good things about him, that he is a go-getter and wants to make [expansion] happen and that is encouraging for us and for the game.
“We’ve been talking about our bid for at least 10 years and we’ve been building our club with the view that we would like to be in the NRL at some stage, and it is looking imminent. As long as we are here it will always be the goal of our club’s leadership to play at the highest level.”