Perth NRL bid open to Bears liaison, rather go alone

Joel Gould |

Mark Geyer played 33 games for Western Reds, the only top-flight league side to play out of Perth.
Mark Geyer played 33 games for Western Reds, the only top-flight league side to play out of Perth.

Peter Cumins, chairman of a Perth consortium hoping to secure a new NRL franchise, is open to a partnership with North Sydney or Newtown but would prefer a stand-alone side.

Cumins was heartened by comments by ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys reported on Sunday that two more expansion teams by 2030 were on the agenda, with Perth a frontrunner.

Peter Tinley, Labor MP, was appointed in 2022 as the chair of the WA Government’s working group to investigate establishing an NRL side in Perth as an expansion franchise.

Tinley has held talks with Newtown and North Sydney about how a partnership might work with a Perth franchise and will include that in his report at the end of June. 

Cumins is aware of the move, supported by V’landys, to bring back the Bears in the NRL in a liaison with Perth.

“It is not our first preference,” Cumins told AAP.

“The people involved in the consortium are West Australians who love rugby league and would love to see a stand-alone team in Perth.

“If we had to make a concession, and a partnership was the only way we could do it, then we would look at that, but there are lots of downsides to those arrangements and the integration with people on the other side of the country.”

Cumins said: “West Australians are very parochial”.

“The history and traditions of the North Sydney Bears and Newtown Jets have no relevance to anyone in Perth,” he said.

“People in Perth would be going, ‘why are we playing games at North Sydney Oval?'”

Cumins said the reason he had not reached out to the Bears or Jets was because he agreed with Tinley that Tinley would hold those discussions.

“When, and if, it is appropriate we will do that,:” he said. 

The bid headed by Cumins has five high-powered individuals as part of the consortium including his brother Brian Cumins, who was formerly on the board of the Western Reds. Cumins is deputy chairman of Cash Converters, the company that sponsored the Reds from 1995-1997

“We have met with Peter Tinley and the government on more than a dozen occasions over the last two years and they know our group well and what capacity we have,” Cumins said.

“The government doesn’t decide who the bid vehicle will be, but will work closely with whoever wins the bid.

“The last thing you want is several Perth consortiums trying to get the license. You want one co-ordinated group.”

Cumins has other potential movers and shakers with significant wealth and acumen around rugby league keen to join the bid, which he has said “ticked all the boxes”.

“We have been told unofficially we will need to raise $30 million and we are confident we can raise that money,” he said.

“Now we have more clarity around expansion dates we can be more active in the market.”

 AAP has been told the PNG NRL bid is far from a fait accompli as the 18th team in 2027 or 2028 despite a $600 million package from the Federal Government over 10 years to fund it. 

The majority of NRL clubs are against it and Wayne Bennett, a supporter of the Perth bid, said on Wednesday that it would be “a two or three-year project” after any decision to expand was made. 

The government working group in Perth on the other hand are convinced they are “NRL ready” now.