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Datagaliwabe, the great God-progenitor of the Hela nation

Looks like there will be a future for the NRL in PNG

Papua New Guinea HuntersMATT PRITCHARD | The Roar

ON the same weekend that Eden Park hosts the NRL Nines tournament, Penrith Panthers will send a team to Port Moresby to open Papua New Guinea’s magnificent new stadium.

The National Football Stadium will host Intrust Super Cup team Papua New Guinea Hunters on a permanent basis this year after they played out of Kokopo while waiting for the venue to be completed.

It’s likely that 15,000 diehard Papua New Guinean rugby league fans will pack the stadium for the friendly game to be played next Saturday.

Panthers general manager Phil Gould headed a delegation to the venue late last year when the Hunters played a few of their games at the National Football Stadium, and was immediately impressed with the facility and passion of the supporters.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the National Football Stadium hosts an NRL match within the next two or three years, with Penrith possibly involved with the influence of James Segeyaro.

Despite the travel and broadcast logistics, the lure of a club game would guarantee a sell-out. Controversially last year the Queensland Rugby League denied the Hunters a home qualifying grand final match in Port Moresby, citing the enormous costs involved.

There’s no doubt the long-term plan is for Papua New Guinea Hunters to be included in the NRL. And they aren’t the only ones looking to secure a future with a couple of bids from Queensland, and a revamped Western Australia bid heading the list.

Unfortunately, expansion of the game has been temporarily placed on hold under the new NRL blueprint.

The success of the Hunters in their short Intrust Super Cup history has been phenomenal. They left their worst performance of the year to their last, soundly beaten by eventual premiers Ipswich Jets. The result overshadowed an outstanding season for the club.

It will be a different looking Hunters side in 2016 under Michael Marum with the departure of big Willie Minoga and talented half Israel Eliab. Despite these two big losses, the Hunters are showing faith in their Digicel Cup competition in finding the next rising star.


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Mathias Kin

Bro John I agree totally with you. The government need to revamp the junior competition. There are so many good kids in the schools who can go on the better things at senior stages if given that chance. The government must spend money on the Juniors now.

John K Kamasua

As I am writing this there are not strong junior rugby league or schoolboys/girls program around the country. There are only disjointed and one-off programs here and there.

Given the love of the game in the country, and the potential for it to grow, it will be a wise decision if bigger slices of the Australian aid funding go into these areas.

It is better to develop the skills and talents of the young players at an early age.

John K Kamasua

Yes, the Hunters left their worst game for the last....and it left a very bitter taste in our mouths. There's even bigger sponsorship of K7.6 million from SP Brewery until 2020.

But money is not the only thing that will change and improve both the quality and standard of the game. There are more areas to improve.

The ball is squarely in the courts of the current administrators to ensure they see beyond the dollars!

Mathias Kin

Well written. It's taken this long and may well take some more years before we are truly taken seriously as a genuine rugby league nation that produces players good enough to play in the NRL.

The Hunters should win the Queensland Cup this year. Willie Minoga and Otio should play NRL this year and Israel Elaib will be a star in the Super League. Then the NRL clubs will sit up to see the potential available in PNG.

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