Wellington's bid to secure an NRL side is making waves with plans for an audacious attempt to sign Kiwis playmaker Kieran Foran as their inaugural captain and make him the highest paid player in the game.

It's difficult to see them snaring Foran, given a second New Zealand team is a long way from being confirmed, if ever, but those behind the Wellington bid are trying to make enough noise in the hope they gain a place in the NRL.

Some NRL bosses seem to be noticing and Shane Richardson, the NRL's new head of game strategy and development, is a fan of expansion from the current 16 teams. The first opportunity would be in 2018 given the existing broadcasting deal expires at the end of the 2017 season.

"We've got to expand," Richardson told the Daily Telegraph. "I'm not so concerned about the number of teams, it's the number of fixtures. The bigger the expansion the better it is for the TV networks.


"I think Western Australia deserves a side, we need another team in south-east Queensland and New Zealand is crying out for another team. The opportunities there in the next media deal are huge. I think we can make some good decisions fairly quickly."

It will encourage those behind the Wellington bid, who don't lack ambition. Foran is at the top of their shopping list, should they obtain an NRL licence, and it's understood they would be prepared to make him the highest paid player in the game.

Foran is off contract at the end of the season and is being chased by the Warriors, Eels and Roosters as well as his current club Manly.

"Our aim is to build a very competitive club, which will make New Zealand and all stakeholders of the NRL proud," bid spokesman Robert Picone said. "A proud Kiwi and a great player like Kieran Foran is a player who you can build a club around and help stamp a terrific culture for the future.

"If Kieran is free at the end of 2017, we will have a contract waiting for him for the 2018 season and beyond and it would be great to have him as the club's first skipper."

The proposed Wellington team would play up to half their matches in Rotorua and Christchurch, recognising that the capital may not be able to support 12 home matches a season.

If the NRL is to expand, they would probably need to add two teams to avoid byes during a full round, although there is some support for reducing the number of Sydney teams from nine.

Richardson, who was Rabbitohs chief executive for 11 years, is keen to reduce the number of games each NRL team plays in the regular season from 24 to 22 or 20 to help alleviate player burnout and also wants to investigate State of Origin on stand-alone weekends.


The latest bid out of Wellington has been backed by a commitment from Christchurch club the Celebration Lions to help support a NSW Cup or Queensland Cup side. The bid team are also confident of obtaining significant financial backing to help their case.

Aside from the Wellington bid, there is a central Queensland consortium, two bids from Brisbane, a Perth franchise and the Central Coast Bears (the former North Sydney Bears) looking for an NRL spot.