PNG kicks off bid for NRL team - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

PNG kicks off bid for NRL team

By Ilya Gridneff 18/02/2009 11:38:12 AM Comments (0)

Papua New Guinea has kicked off their bid to enter a team into the Australian NRL competition.

Rugby league is officially PNG's national sport and the NRL is considered a sporting Nirvana.

But entering the NRL has wider implication than simply sporting success - it provides a unifying direction for millions of die-hard fans who often play all year round, barefoot, in searing heat and on rock-hard surfaces.

PNG political elite know the potential and on Tuesday Prime Minister Michael Somare gave 500,000 kina (A$250,000) of government money towards an official team to develop a NRL proposal.

Gold Coast Titans chairman Paul Broughton and Queensland coach Mal Meninga are also part of PNG's 'bid team'.

PNG's deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu said the government is now approaching private enterprise to help achieve the necessary criteria for entry into the competition.

"Imagine a PNG team in the NRL competition, imagine the opportunities, and imagine the strengthening of the PNG and Australia relationship," he said.

"To have our very own NRL team would unite the whole country," he said.

PNG rugby league president Danny Holmes told AAP an estimated third of PNG's six million population plays league.

"We can have more influence than the government, that's how important and big this is," he said.

"The implications are greater than just having a footy side in the NRL, it gives a big time goal to every kid who puts a boot on.

"We've been using league as a way for kids to learn to be part of a team and a community with a common goal, to learn life skills and confidence," he said.

Holmes admits its not going to be an easy journey to the NRL.

"The government has researched and there is corporate interest.

"The time frame is eight years but there is also talk about 2012, when Somare may retire, so we see," he said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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