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The National Rugby League (NRL) is the top league of professional rugby league clubs in Australasia.

George Illawarra Dragons in the decider at Stadium Australia.Balmain and Western Suburbs formed the joint-venture club, the Wests Tigers at the end of 1999, while North Sydney and Manly-Warringah created the ill-fated Northern Eagles.With twenty-two teams of highly varying quality playing in two competitions that year, crowd attendances and corporate sponsorships were spread very thinly, and many teams found themselves in financial difficulty.The ARL undertook moves to invite the traditional clubs that had moved to the Super League competition back into a re-unified competition.It was also announced that clubs that merged would receive a large sum of money, as well as a guaranteed position in the 2000 NRL Competition. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers were the first clubs to take up the offer, forming the joint-venture St.

George Illawarra Dragons at the end of the 1998 season.This was attempted in 1995 with control of the premiership passing from the NSWRFL to the Australian Rugby League (ARL), who invited four more teams from outside NSW to participate in 1995.Ultimately this competition failed, but in its demise the National Rugby League was born, incorporating the traditional Sydney clubs, successfully coercing the Sydney market to follow the newly created national competition.Following a period of negotiation with News Corporation, on 23 September 1997 the ARL announced that it was forming a new company to conduct the competition in 1998.On 7 October News' Manaaki Ranginui announced that he was confident that there would be a single competition in 1998.As part of another image makeover, a number of teams also released new club logos.