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Why Rugby League Fans Should Get Behind Expansion Hopefuls The Firehawks

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Why Rugby League Fans Should Get Behind Expansion Hopefuls The Firehawks

Queensland is on the brink of getting a fourth NRL team - the Firehawks are hoping it's them.

The Brisbane Jets, Redcliffe Dolphins and Firehawks are all vying for a spot in the NRL to become the competition's 17th team.

With plans underway to introduce a new club by 2024 the latest, NRL boss Peter V'landys is set to hold crucial talks with all three expansion hopefuls next week.

But while each franchise hopes to bring their own unique offerings to the negotiation table, it's the Firehawks who believe they've got plenty in their locker which will get the fans - particularly footy-mad Queenslanders - excited.

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As a franchise, the Firehawks already represent the Easts Tigers club that currently ply their trade in the Queensland Cup.

Leaning off that pre-existing 105-year-old fanbase is a bonus, but the Firehawks recognise that attracting and engaging a new age of young rugby league supporters will be a key sticking point when it comes to nabbing that 17th spot in the NRL.

Personal growth aside, the hopefuls know their ability to attract younger fans could also be the driving force and ultimately the blueprint in growing the wider NRL too.

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"The Firehawks will be able to attract a new younger audience via our communications and digital approach," Rich Digital CEO Brent Richardson told SPORTbible Australia.

"This will allow us to attract new sponsors to the game, combat the AFL in southeast Queensland and future proof rugby league.

"Our members will be at the heart of everything we do. When we set out to create the 17th NRL team we decided to envisage what a new club could look like in today's world that is not shackled by legacy. It would be a team that focuses on being a sports and entertainment powerhouse that engages and entertains our members at every touchpoint and makes them proud to be a part of the Firehawks community."

Credit: Instagram/@wearefirehawks
Credit: Instagram/@wearefirehawks
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There have been plenty of rumours swirling as to which star players or legendary coaches could jump ship to the NRL newcomers.

Being a team based in the Sunshine state, initial talks suggested we could see an influx of Queensland greats with fans envisaging the likes of Wayne Bennett in the dugout or Cameron Munster as captain.

But as we edge closer to crunch time for the expansion hopefuls, we could very well see a younger generation of players start throwing their names into the hat as the potential headline attraction for a new team.

There's no denying that young fans would love to see players like Latrell Mitchell, Kalyn Ponga, Reece Walsh, Joseph Manu, Sam Walker, Jayden Campbell, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui or even Joseph Suaalli suit up in a new jersey and be the face of the NRL's newest team.

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That said, the Firehawks know there's more they can offer than just a big-name marquee signing.

Cameron Munster. Credit: NRL/Twitter
Cameron Munster. Credit: NRL/Twitter

With the power of social media growing so rapidly today, the Firehawks hope to tap into that as a way of not only communicating regularly with its fanbase but also engaging with them too.

No, we're not talking about bog-standard Instagram polls or even Facebook posts - instead, the Firehawks are offering something other NRL teams can only dream of.

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Away from the footy field, the Firehawks have some revolutionary ideas up their sleeve which will undoubtedly get a younger audience onside and change the framework of how fans consume the great game of rugby league.

"What is most important to us is showing up where our members are and adding value to them," Richardson added.

"We have created a twitch channel where our members can watch their favourite player. We have also created Firehawks nests which are pop up bars and venues where members can get together and support the Firehawks if they cannot get to the game.

"We have Spotify playlists chosen by our members and will offer member-only exclusives such as Supreme clothing and free trials of Kayo and Canva.

"Our game day experience will be like no other where you could buy your ticket in crypto, listen to up and coming DJs and host entertaining halftime shows.

"If you look at what the Carolina Panthers did with augmented reality, we would be looking into that as well as stats by YouTube and try celebrations by Nickelodeon."

But if you thought the Firehawks' bold plans stop in their tracks after becoming the NRL's 17 side, then you'd be sorely mistaken.

The franchise doesn't just want to hang around down the bottom of the ladder and scrape a few wins here and there, they're demanding competitiveness from the get go and have a 10-year projection which should worry some of the other current clubs.

"Our goal is to build a club and ethos that makes it a top 4 club every year, is profitable, grows the games fanbase, wins a premiership and creates a new model for what a successful franchise can look like so that others can replicate it," Richardson said.

"We are not the big end of town nor the small end of town, we are not your dad's or grandad's footy team, we are your team."

Featured Image Credit: NRL/Instagram/@wearefirehawks

Topics: Rugby League, Social Media, nrl, Australia

Max Sherry
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