North Sydney Bears Chairman Daniel Dickson says relocating the Bears to Western Australia is ‘most logical’ for the NRL amid discussions of a new expansion franchise. 

The Bears were a foundation team in the NRL, based out of North Sydney Oval and are looking to rejoin the competition as the 18th team. 

Last week, NRL Chief Executive Peter V’landys told the media revitalising the 116-year-old club as a Perth-based team was the preferred option. 

Speaking to SportFM Dickson says the news is exciting and has been a long time in the making. 

“The Bears have been spoken about for a couple of years now and I think it’s becoming a reality. It’s probably the most logical for the game,” he said. 

“Perth has been desiring a team there for a long time. A couple of years ago, we took the North Sydney out of the North Sydney Bears, knowing full well that the game wasn’t going to grow in Sydney like that. 

“The benefit to the WA people is that our people are willing to take on the road wherever we need to go. Picking up 116 years of history and heritage is something you just can’t buy overnight. 

“Our fans would be behind that straight away if they’re in WA. That would just be outstanding.” 

Western Australia has not featured at the national level in rugby league since the Western Reds, who after briefly being renamed the Perth Reds, went extinct in 1996. 

Premier Roger Cook has been a driving force and has met with the heads of North Sydney to discuss the potential expansion further. 

Over the past three years, Dickson says he has been ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the eagerness from Perth fans surrounding NRL, given the AFL’s dominance in WA.

“Myself and Billy Moore came over there to the Origin the other year and it was welcomed enormously… We took a photo and posted it on our social media. I had 164 messages in my inbox from social media saying, ‘We’ve got to start the Perth Bears’” he said.

“There’s always going to be people unsure about the process, but that’s the exciting part of expansion. There’s going to be challenges everywhere. Every expansion and every new franchise will have some challenge. 

“The desire of the people in Perth and even the people in New South Wales, they know that they know the Bears want to be involved and it’s quite an amazing thing. 

“They just don’t care if they’re playing Helsinki, they want them to be involved. You don’t have any opposition there. 

“You’re not going to have people to try and pull them back to New South Wales because they just want them involved in the game, which is a beautiful thing.” 

A Papua New Guinea-based team will be up against the bid for the Perth Bears to become the next side in the NRL after the league and Federal Government provided funding to start up a new franchise. 

The deal could be worth $600 million in federal funding over the next 10 years. However, Dickson believes the best thing for the competition is re-engaging an old brand and fanbase.

“The game needs success and I know there’s a huge game following in Papua New Guinea. That the greatest thing for stability in the game is bringing back the Bears,” he said. 

“There are over 200 thousand fans that have been disconnected from the game. WA has got a huge desire to be involved there and I know people would embrace it. 

“Our feeder system goes all up through the North Shore and then connecting it with the WA Rugby League that’s already in existence, I think it’s a very stable move to make.  

“You’re not starting a new brand. You’re re-engaging an old brand in an area where people are hungry to be involved in the game.”