NRL must take PNG bid seriously: Meninga - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL must take PNG bid seriously: Meninga

By Laine Clark 17/10/2008 08:30:56 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league legend Mal Meninga believes the NRL must consider a PNG bid if it is serious about developing the sport.

Meninga and Kumuls coach Adrian Lam threw their support behind the PNG government's bold push to field an NRL team.

But both agreed that PNG should learn to walk in the Queensland Cup before attempting the elite level.

Prime Minister Michael Somare has sent a letter inviting ARL chief executive Geoff Carr and NRL boss David Gallop to PNG to discuss what is needed for the country to enter a team.

Meninga knows first hand how passionate PNG is about the sport, taking a Prime Minister's XIII to Port Moresby each year to take on the Kumuls national team.

Meninga and the Australian players are treated like rock stars at PNG, the only country where league is the national sport.

Asked if a PNG NRL team should be considered, Meninga told AAP: "I think they (NRL) would be missing an opportunity if they didn't.

"PNG is our closest neighbour and if they (NRL) are serious about growing the sport - particularly in other nations - they should take this seriously.

"Obviously they are not going to come into the comp next year but a process can be put into place, they can set goals and five, 10 years down the track we could see a team."

Meninga believed a PNG team should use the Queensland Cup - which features NRL feeder teams - as a stepping stone.

"They've got talent no doubt about that. If they were initiated in the Queensland Cup, got used to playing at a higher level on a regular basis, there's no doubt they could field a good side (in the NRL)," he said.

"The whole nation would be ecstatic (if they had an NRL team).

"There's a few things ...(like) funding and stadiums to be worked out but you can't deny the passion they have for the sport."

The only PNG team to have contested the Queensland Cup was the Port Moresby Vipers.

They featured in the first two years of the Cup competition from 1996-97 before they withdrew due to financial reasons.

But in his letter to the ARL, Somare wrote that his government would provide funding.

QRL boss Ross Livermore welcomed the idea but stressed the team would have to "pay all the costs associated with their participation.

"But they would be welcome because they would certainly add something to it."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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