Norths Devils have announced an historic affiliation with the Dolphins NRL club that aims to strengthen rugby league across Brisbane’s northside.
This will be the third affiliation in the Devils’ modern history following previous long-term partnerships with the Melbourne Storm (1998-2007) and the Brisbane Broncos (2008-2023).
The exclusive four-year agreement with the Dolphins will begin on 1 November 2023 and includes:
- The Dolphins will provide NRL-contracted players to the Devils during the Hostplus Cup season. More Norths players will be provided the chance to earn their shot at the NRL with select Devils to be placed on pre-season NRL train-and-trial agreements with the Dolphins.
- A direct pathway for female players to progress through the Dolphins’ wide catchment area into a future NRLW team. Female players in Brisbane’s north will be able to feed through to the Devils’ BMD Premiership team via the establishment of a new Dolphins NRLW Girls Academy.
- A full-time game development officer to be based at the Devils. This is a new position that will assist in building the grassroots level on the northside, which has more than 5000 registered junior players and several schools with rugby league excellence programs.
“This has been a significant decision for our club because we have valued our long-term affiliations,” Devils chairman Michael Crutcher said.
“Our partnerships with the Broncos and Storm have been mutually beneficial and have helped progress some of the great careers in modern rugby league history. We are grateful to those partners.
“Now is the right time for the Devils to begin a new partnership. We are fortunate to have enjoyed good seasons on and off the field in recent years including the last two Hostplus Cup premierships and the launch of our inaugural BMD Premiership team.
“This is an important time for grassroots rugby league in Brisbane. We are delighted to agree to this partnership with the Dolphins with our shared commitment to developing the strongest foundations for the game on the northside.
“We value the combined history of our clubs. We have been rivals for more than 60 years but we have always shared the belief that the rivalry has made each club stronger.
“Our fans know that we will always be rivals in the Hostplus Cup – the huge crowd at last year’s grand final between Norths and Redcliffe proved that – but this partnership is about a shared vision for rugby league on the northside of Brisbane.”
The Devils are drawn to play the Dolphins’ Hostplus Cup team at Redcliffe on Saturday night in the latest chapter of a rivalry that has spanned more than 60 years.
The new deal extends an association that began in 1959 when Clive Churchill was captain-coach of the first Devils team to meet the Dolphins, who were preparing for their inaugural season in the 1960 Brisbane Rugby League competition.
Since then, some of the greatest names in Devils and Dolphins history have switched between the clubs. These include Kangaroos Mark Murray and Greg Conescu. Current Dolphins’ players Kodi Nikorima, Jarrod Wallace, Tom Gilbert and Sean O’Sullivan have played Queensland Cup or junior grades with the North Devils.
Dolphins NRL chief executive Terry Reader, who was previously Devils CEO and a Devils board member until 2021, said he was delighted with the new partnership.
“The Devils are a traditional club that have been playing in the Brisbane Rugby League club since its foundation year in 1933 and actually voted for the Dolphins to join the BRL back in 1960,” Reader said.
“To have them join us an affiliate is going to be a great thing for our club and the game in the north Brisbane area.
“It will allow the Dolphins to help build the game through junior clubs at grassroots level and give local players greater connection to our elite NRL and NRLW Dolphins Academy, where we are developing the NRL and NRLW players of the future.
“We already have a number of Norths-affiliated junior players in our Academy program and this is a big step for the Dolphins to provide greater links between our club and the local community.”
Norths CEO Troy Rovelli said the new partnership would contain some similarities with the Devils’ current deal with the Broncos, which ends in October.
The Devils are one of three statewide competition clubs affiliated with the Broncos while the club will join Redcliffe and CQ Capras in an affiliation with the CQ Capras.
“This wasn’t an easy decision because we’ve valued our long-term association with the Broncos,” Rovelli said.
“We’ll get to work in November in starting this new partnership, sharing a common goal with the Dolphins of boosting rugby league on the northside of Brisbane.
“We’re fortunate to have some very strong relationships key personnel in the Dolphins’ NRL club and we look forward to working together in the best interests of the game.”