The making of a new breed of club - consulting on the Firehawks NRL bid

Over a year ago Rich Digital were engaged as bid consultants by Easts Group to shape what would become the Firehawks. The potential 17th team, and fourth QLD team, to enter the NRL.

The official bid submission was early June this year. Up until the bid was submitted and still as the prospective clubs await the NRL’s decision, Rich Digital’s, consultancy role has been underpinned by three key mantras - if you like:

  • HUNTERS NOT CANNIBALS

  • A NEW BREED OF CLUB

  • TO ENERGISE THE FUTURE OF RUGBY LEAGUE

Let us explain….

Shane Richardson, co-founder of Rich Digital has a rich history working with the NRL - both in a club leadership capacity for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and within NRL HQ as their first Head of Game Strategy & Development.

Throughout his extensive tenure in rugby league, both in Australia and the UK, Shane built a robust understanding of how our national comp would grow. A fourth Queensland team, fielded out of Brisbane, a valuable prospect. But importantly, only value where risk of cannibalising existing fan bases of NRL clubs is mitigated. And this mitigation is at the heart of the Firehawks proposition. Being HUNTERS NOT CANNIBALS:

  • Bringing in new audiences to the game.

  • Attracting casual sports fans that do not support a current NRL team in the comp.

More than a “promise” this proposition is a solid business proposal - to do things differently, to forge a new path, to found a new club to get there…

So, what does A NEW BREED OF CLUB look like? That’s where Brent Richardson, co-founder & CEO of Rich Digital and; Shane's son’s experience in digital media was able to elevate the bid. Most recently, before starting the company in early 2020, Brent worked at Google in New York advising some of the biggest, highest growth companies (Spotify, Netflix, New York Times) in the world on their strategies to target audiences through online marketing channels. His over 12 years of experience in digital brand marketing, were instrumental in shaping the Firehawks brand and communications strategy to be one of growth for - not just the club but for the NRL.

A new breed of club has to do things differently to earn its place as the 4th team from QLD, 17th team in the NRL and TO ENERGISE THE FUTURE OF RUGBY LEAGUE. The strategy is to be the most entertaining club in Australia.

“The Firehawks are blazing a new path for sports teams in the Australian market. The approach to branding, fan engagement, game day experience and membership, has melded the best of business strategies from world class sporting teams such as the Lakers in the NBA and entertainment powerhouses such as Spotify.


Everything the Firehawks do will be about entertainment, the fan centric experience backed by sustainable infrastructure [of the Easts Group].”


Brent Richardson, CEO Rich Digital

Rich Digital, being a new company in of itself, is a fan of SHOW DON’T TELL while building credibility in the market. An approach which was applied to Firehawks “launch” marketing. See the gallery below:



Large digital billboards around Brisbane including high traffic areas such as Fortitude Valley and most recently at The Gabba during an AFL game. Media Partner: BIG Outdoor.



Mobile mural, hand painted outside the NRL HQ/Sydney Cricket Ground, that travelled for a week through high traffic and pedestrian areas throughout NSW. This included key stadiums and sporting grounds to get the attention of casual sports fans.


Street media activations targeting the Howard Smith Wharves precinct, popular amongst young people and casual sports fans.



Achieving coverage from a mix of traditional and modern media via a press conference and release with key messages for publication from the Firehawks bid.



Relevant social media shares to appeal to the Firehawks new high value audience target, prioritising Instagram as a way to have a dialogue with fans at scale.


"Rich Digital’s consultancy has been invaluable in our bid to become the NRL’s 17th club and instrumental to the strength and creditability of our submission. Their professional advice in relation to strategic management and digital branding was invaluable. We continue to partner with Rich Digital with our Firehawks, Brisbane Tigers and Easts Leagues club digital platforms.


I would recommend Rich Digital to any organisation or individual looking to digitally promote their brand .”


Brian Torpy, CEO Brisbane Firehawks & Brisbane Tigers.


Thank you to Brian Torpy, Stephen Bullow and the entire Brisbane Tigers/Easts Group for engaging Rich Digital in this venture. It has been one for the books and as we await the NRL’s decision we look forward to continuing a fruitful business partnership.

Follow @wearefirehawks on social media. For consultancy enquiries, contact Brent Richardson today on 0414 983 200 or via email brichardson@richdigital.com.au.