Papua New Guinea has launched its bid to have a team in the NRL, which could be expanded to 18 teams within the next 10 years.
The Dolphins will become the NRL’s latest addition when they join the competition in 2023. And already talk is turning to further expansion with PNG firmly in the mix.
They would face strong competition. Perth are pushing to have a side in the NRL, while Brisbane and New Zealand also want another representative.
But it is the possibility of Papua New Guinea having a team that really grips the imagination. The bid has the backing of Prime Minister, James Marape. And Sports Minister Wesley Raminai has now spoken of their intention to push on with the bid.
The campaign was launched on Wednesday night and PNG hope to have a side in the NRL by 2030.
“Our PNG NRL bid team is ready. The time to start the journey is now. We can’t wait any longer,” Raminai said.
Papua New Guinea already have a base in Australia. The PNG Hunters play in the Queensland Cup and Marape has spoken of his intention to have them play in the NRL.
“We are preparing for possibility of PNG owning a team in the NRL in 2025,” he said last year. “That is why the Hunters are becoming an entity of their own and turning into a professional outfit. With the Hunters relocating to Australia using their new visa, it will be also easy for them to stay in Australia and play if they secure an NRL contract.”
NRL immortal Andrew Johns has spoken out in support in the past. While Justin Olam and Xavier Coates are among high-profile NRL players to come from Papua New Guinea. The national side, The Kumuls, are also ranked fifth in the world.
Papua New Guinea ready to go
PNG officials accept it will be a competitive process. But they have faith in their bid and are ready to give it a good shot.
“The investment and work we’ve done over the last 12 years with our infrastructure, governance and financial capacity and competitiveness of the sport in the country has put us in a good position,” PNG Rugby League chairman Sandis Tsaka said.
“Our men’s and women’s international teams are becoming competitive. Investment we’ve done across the game in terms of infrastructure has us in good stead to put in a good bid.
“We know there are other teams within Australia and New Zealand that have put their hand up. It will be a competitive process.”
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