I reckon the answer to the biggest question in rugby league could become a lot clearer this weekend...
With the NRL fast approaching crunch time over a mooted fourth Queensland team, Magic Round provides the perfect litmus test for whether it could be viable. Those opposed to the concept are quick to argue that there simply isn’t enough talent available to support another Queensland team.
Having all 16 teams in action at Suncorp Stadium for three straight days will be the perfect opportunity for them to make their case. Or not. Those in favour of a fourth Queensland team will point to the array of talent on show to prove the knockers wrong. The timing couldn’t be better.
With the debate raging, anyone questioning the depth of Queensland rugby league will have a rare opportunity to see nearly every one of the State’s top NRL players in action at the same venue on the same weekend.
Depending which way the NRL decides to go, it could be a glimpse into the future with a fourth team meaning two matches featuring Queensland teams would regularly be played at Suncorp Stadium on the same weekend during the season. It will also emphasise the fact that Queensland players don’t just play for Queensland clubs.
On Friday night alone fans will be able to see the likes of Queensland Origin players Kalyn Ponga, Dale Cherry-Evans and Moses Mbye turning out for Newcastle, Manly and Wests Tigers. One of the biggest drawcards of the round will be the Rooster’s Sam Walker. Melbourne’s Cameron Munster and Harry Grant will be missing through injury, but both are proud Maroons, and the list goes on and on.
The anti-expansion group would say that Queensland’s available talent has been stretched to breaking point already. Those in favour could argue that if Queensland can provide the galaxy of stars on show this weekend, the junior production line is obviously working well, and the addition of another team will enable more promising players to play for a local club rather than having to move interstate.
The three Queensland clubs have plenty to play for too in terms of the fourth team conundrum. All have tough matches. The improving Broncos are up against the in-form Sea Eagles on Friday night, the Cowboys take on the Roosters the next night and the Titans face the red-hot Panthers in the last game of the weekend.
A good showing by all three will add weight to the expansion movement. A series of blow-outs will play right into the hands of those who believe the game can’t support the number of teams it already has, let alone adding more.
I reckon it adds a fascinating sub-plot to what will already be a truly Magic Round in every sense of the word.
What do YOU reckon?
Let us know on the Suncorp Stadium Facebook page!