Ipswich NRL team 'a no brainer' says Matthew Johns
LEAGUE legend Matthew Johns insists Ipswich and the western corridor deserves its own NRL team and not a relocated one.
And certainly not a relocated one from the Newcastle Knights, the club where he won the 1997 premiership.
Johns was responding to rumours that the NRL was considering relocating the struggling Knights to Ipswich.
Leading Daily Telegraph rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield wrote today that "a strong rumour was doing the rounds over the weekend that the financially strapped club would be moved to Ipswich to create the fourth Queensland side broadcasters want.
"We had it confirmed from NRL sources that moving the Knights had actually been discussed," Rothfield wrote.
The QT contacted Johns and he was adamant that Ipswich deserved its own home grown side.
Ipswich and the western corridor area has a similar demographic to Parramatta, Penrith and Campbelltown in Sydney, all areas that have their own NRL team.
The Western Corridor NRL bid has been preparing to enter an expanded competition for seven years.
"The western area of Brisbane - Ipswich and Logan - they deserve their own team without a doubt," Johns told the QT.
"I have said for a long while 'get them in'. It is just a no-brainer from my point of view.
"Look at the players that have been produced...Alf, the Walters brothers, Peter Ryan. Cameron Smith is from Logan. The list goes on and on.
"But it needs to start as its own identity."
Johns was adamant in his view that a new Ipswich side would "have to start from scratch."
"Let's take Newcastle out of the equation," he said.
"If you say 'there are too many teams in Sydney so let's relocate one up there' then the Broncos will always remain the Brisbane team and the relocated side will be the Sydney side that has just lobbed into town.
"Regardless that Brisbane haven't won a competition since 2006, when you look at the success of the Broncos and the business it is time for another team up there.
"A Brisbane derby would add to that, but on top of that you look at the junior base the Ipswich area has and it is just phenomenal.
"The league are always looking to expand the game as far as Perth is concerned, but for mine the western (corridor) of Brisbane just makes so much sense to me. It just adds so much to the competition.
"But if you relocate a Sydney team up there it will always in the eyes of the people just be another Sydney team."
While Ipswich does not want a relocated team, Johns also explained why moving his beloved Knights made no sense.
"The two cities have gone crazy," Johns said.
"There is no way that the NRL can do without Newcastle. It is such a heartland.
"Just because a club that is in rugby league heartland goes through a couple of tough years doesn't mean you pack them up and move them along. It doesn't equate to saying 'let's shift'.
"It is one of the biggest junior bases in Australia and they are on their way back, no doubt about it.
"Buzz Rothfield wrote that if you think there was an outcry when Souths got kicked out of the comp', then wait to see what happens if you try to do that to Newcastle."
The NRL is providing the QT with a comment on the rumours of the relocation but we understand from a preliminary discussion that it has no intentions of moving the Knights.