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New NRL side for Christchurch?

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In New Zealand, excitement is building around the idea of a new National Rugby League (NRL) team, potentially called the ‘South Island Kea’, based in Christchurch. This idea is getting closer to reality, with discussions about the team joining the NRL in a few years, possibly by 2026.

The South Island’s interest in rugby league is set to increase with the construction of the new Te Kaha Stadium in Christchurch, which is expected to be ready by April 2026. David Moffett, a well-known figure in sports management, is leading the push for this new team and plans to talk with top officials in Australian rugby league soon.

This development comes as another group, led by a former rugby league official from Canterbury, is also looking to start a professional rugby league team in the South Island. These two groups are now competing to make this dream a reality.

The idea of adding another New Zealand team to the NRL has been around for a while. The New Zealand Warriors, the only current NZ team in the league, have been playing for nearly 30 years but haven’t won a premiership yet. The NRL expanded last year by adding the Dolphins team from Queensland, bringing the total number of teams to 17.

David Moffett, who has a long history in sports administration, has been interested in a South Island NRL team since 2012. He believes the new Te Kaha Stadium would be a fantastic venue for rugby league and could host more games than the local rugby union team, the Crusaders.

The proposed team could also help keep local talent in New Zealand, as many Māori and Pasifika players currently play in Australia. Moffett suggests that having another team in New Zealand could provide more opportunities for these players closer to home.

In addition to the excitement of possibly having a new team, Moffett’s plan includes a unique fan ownership structure and a commitment to donate part of ticket sales to the Save the Kea Foundation, showing support for local wildlife.

However, this ambitious project faces competition from other proposed teams in Australia and another bid within the South Island itself. Moffett is set to meet with key NRL officials soon to discuss his proposal, while the rival South Island NRL Bid Limited group has already met with NRL leaders in Las Vegas.

The idea of a South Island NRL team is gaining momentum, and if successful, it could bring more top-level rugby league action to New Zealand, offering local fans and players new opportunities and excitement.

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