NRL insists back is not turned on Perth

·2-min read

The NRL insists its decision to take the second State of Origin back to Perth in 2022 shows it has not turned its back on the game's future in Western Australia.

Origin in Perth was seen as a success in 2019 when it sold-out the 60,000 seat Optus Stadium, at a time where expansion into the city was seen as a possibility.

Since then though, the NRL has made clear that Brisbane is its priority for a 17th team, with Peter V'landys also questioning later that year why money would be spent in AFL states.

But former chairman and current commissioner Peter Beattie maintained on Wednesday the door was not fully shut on the state.

Instead, he claimed that Origin would help build a foundation for the game to potentially one day expand with it.

"Forget about all the chatter, words are cheap, actions mean something," Beattie said.

"We are committed to rugby league in Western Australia. The fact we are bringing our premium product here next year demonstrates that.

"We want every little boy and every girl in this state to think about rugby league.

"As it grows then the opportunities grow. It's the national rugby league, we are growing it by building our best product here."

The state's league officials still hold hope of eventually having the NRL's 18th team.

Western Australia's rugby league numbers have long been on the rise, and in 2019 before COVID-19 the state had only around 100 fewer registered players than in Victoria.

That comes despite the Storm having been playing in Melbourne since 1998, while Perth's only team fell victim to the Super League war in 1997.

Beattie maintained on Wednesday that Queensland was the right move for the next team, but insisted the game was still focused on a national footprint.

"We are building our base and then we go from there," he said.

"The 17th team will be in Queensland, a decision will be made mid-year. Then after that we will just see, we are trying to build a national game.

"That's why we;'re back here. We're not fly-by-nighters, this is the second time we've been here.

"We want to build it up with these kids seeing their heroes."

Meanwhile the move comes with the series-opener already locked in for Melbourne this year, while Adelaide has been confirmed as a host for a match in 2023.