PNG PM wants Rudd to support NRL bid - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

PNG PM wants Rudd to support NRL bid

PORT MORESBY, Oct 20 AAP 20/10/2008 05:11:32 PM Comments (0)

Papua New Guinea wants Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to support its bid for entry to the National Rugby League (NRL) competition.

PNG's Prime Minister Michael Somare has thrown his support behind the country's push to enter the NRL by 2020 but he says Mr Rudd must also get behind the effort.

PNG's Minister Assisting the PM Philemon Embel, speaking on behalf of Mr Somare, said that last week PNG had sent a letter to NRL bosses but the support of the Australian government was needed.

"We would be looking to AusAID or the (Australian) federal government to assist us," Mr Embel told reporters.

"At a government-to-government level we are hoping for his (Rudd's) support," he said.

PNG faces costly hurdles such as the building of a suitable stadium and set-up fees.

And there is also the problem of reducing on-field and off-field violence that regularly affects matches in PNG rugby league.

The bid to enter the NRL would be a difficult 10-12 year journey reliant on PNG big business, Mr Embel said.

"The (PNG) PM has decided to explore the possibility of having a PNG franchise team participate in the NRL," he said.

"At the moment it is just an exploratory stage."

PNG would follow the NRL's Gold Coast Titans model to break into the competition, he said. That required building a $50 million stadium.

"It's not easy, it costs a lot of money and needs a lot of preparation," he said.

"There are no figures as yet as there is nothing there, it's an idea being floated."

Mr Somare wants a PNG NRL side as part of his legacy to the nation.

PNG is the only country in the world with rugby league as its national sport.

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