The Engine Room

As Rugby League in Australia enters an exciting new era with the introduction of the Independent Commission, expansion in conjunction with a new TV rights deal must be the first order of business.

We know Perth will be participating in the 2013 competition but over the short term, that leaves us with at least one more team to find. The question is, who should that team be and where should the team be located.

Many people see the Central Coast as the logical choice to bridge the gap between Newcastle and Manly on the Northern Beaches not to mention the fact the Central Coast have the ready made infrastructure to support a team.

My personal opinion is Sydney and the surrounding fringes are already marginalised by an oversupply of teams and a Central Coast team is not the right fit at this point in time. I'm not saying never but not right now.

By 2015 I would like to see 20 teams with the inclusion of the Central Coast Bears along with another team from Queensland, preferably Central Queensland.

Back to the here and now. I think it is critical for the long term future of the game to have a team playing out of Wellington and given the ongoing success of the New Zealand national team and the inundation of Kiwi talent into the NRL, a second side playing out of New Zealand makes just as much sense as a team playing out of Perth.

What the game does not need is 16 geriatrics representing their own self interest to the detriment of the game. For too long self interest has held the game back from reaching its full potential and with the IC, I hope it's not nepotism under another name rather than a true meeting of the minds.

The next TV deal needs to substantial enough to allow an increase in the salary cap so we can get to a figure of five million per club, per year. This would allow the elite players in our game to be paid their true market worth but also allowing the game to grow and fund development at the grass roots level of the game.

We all know the wheels within our great game turn excruciatingly slow at times but where expansion and the IC are concerned, the bureaucrats need to act with a sense of urgency so the likes of Greg Inglis never consider a meeting with James Hird.

The game has the potential to be a juggernaut in the Australian sporting landscape, but at the moment, that's all we have - potential