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PNG bid for NRL

PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has launched a bold plan for his country's inclusion in the NRL as they prepare for their World Cup opener against England in Townsville on October 25.
PNG bid for NRL
by NRL

PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has launched a bold plan for his country's inclusion in the NRL as they prepare for their World Cup opener against England in Townsville on October 25.

The Australian Rugby League received a letter from Somare that declared the government was willing to provide all levels of funding to ensure the nation joins the NRL in the future.

The letter has also invited NRL officials to travel to the country to open talks with the government about the prospect and to explore all the obstacles facing entry into the competition.

"In the letter the Prime Minister has invited people to Port Moresby to have initial talks," ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said.
"They're coming from a long way back. Stadiums aren't up to the standard of NRL clubs and these are all things that have to be looked at with the PNG government.

"It's not going to be an overnight campaign and at the end there are still no guarantees.

"But it's a rap on our game that a national government would be keen on exploring ways that its people can have (their) own team."

Serious communication is expected to begin between Somare and the NRL in the coming months and Carr said PNG could not be written off as a possible expansion area for the competition. He pointed at the success of the Gold Coast Titans, who joined the competition in 2007, as a blueprint for any PNG business model.

"Once the Gold Coast Chargers disintegrated a lot of people thought there would never be another team on the Gold Coast," Carr said.

"But they spent the best part of 10 years dotting all the I's, crossing all the T's and overcoming those hurdles.

"The challenges for New Guinea are the same as the Gold Coast, they have to have a credible national stadium and that's (the) obstacle the Gold Coast overcame, and they obviously need to have guaranteed financial backing.

Passion for league fires PNG bid

"There are a variety of conditions that would need to met, but the bottom line is they appear quite serious."

Australian players have experienced firsthand the passion the PNG people have for rugby league, the only country where it is their national sport, through the Prime Minister's XIII annual tour to the country.

"The population is fanatical about rugby league, they are great supporters of the game," Carr said.

"We go up there with the Prime Minister's XIII and the boys cannot get over how they are treated like gods up there."

And with the Kumuls set to play against the biggest nations (Australia, New Zealand and England in their pool) on Australian soil, two of those games in Townsville, Carr said the World Cup would be an ideal chance for them to showcase their skills.

"Their national team is competing in the World Cup and I guess as far as they're concerned the logical extension is to see a PNG team come into the national competition," he said.

"They've got the backing of the whole government. Not many sports in the world have their government apply to put a team in the competition.

"The PNG guys are in the tough pool so they get to showcase their talent and we know through our experience with the Prime Minister's XIII game that they are really, really tough players."

"There are obviously realistic hurdles (towards joining the NRL) but people should never say never."

The Kumuls arrived in Cairns this morning and will arrive in Townsville on Monday.

Source: www.townsvillebulletin.com.au




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