In a move to bolster Papua New Guinea’s bid to join the NRL, the 30th Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum has backed the inclusion of PNG teams in the National Rugby League (NRL) and National Women’s Rugby League (NRLW).

“Ministers shared PNG and Australia’s aspiration for PNG franchises in the National Rugby League (NRL) and National Women’s Rugby League (NRLW) recognising sports’ ability to unify people and deepen the friendship between the two countries”

“Ministers welcomed Australia’s support including an investment of $5 million (US$3.3 million) in the PNG NRL bid Academy programme to support talent pathways for young Papua New Guineans playing rugby league,” said the 30th Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum Joint Communiqué.

Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinea NRL Bid is not concerned by news that a joint North Sydney Bears and Perth bid has apparently gained the front-running in the race to be the 18th National Rugby League team.

PNG NRL Bid chief executive officer Andrew Hill his team was more focussed on what it could control and one of them was the progress of its academy programme which was growing to include all regions of the country.

CEO Hill told The National that they were adamant that they could present a strong case to the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) for consideration before the official announcement of the successful bid in September or October.

“There is no official word from the NRL but we are continuing to work with them on what our bid would look like,” Hill said.

“There is a lot of speculation on the media and that speculation is not getting fuelled by us, we are only focusing on working diligently on what our bid would look like.

“We were told that the decision will be made before Christmas, now whether that’s going to be in July or September, I am not sure.

“But we are focusing on what we can control and what we can control is developing our player pathway and implementing a strong submission to the NRL.

“For rugby league in general, not just in Australia but throughout the Pacific, its tremendous that there is so much interest in growing the game.
“It’s very hard for one bid to be critical of another bid, I think if the game is growing that means there is more opportunity, the game continues to get bigger and stronger.

“What we know is rugby league is important for PNG and PNG is very important for rugby league and we are going to put a strong case as to why PNG should be in.

“Whether it’s the 18th, 19th or 20th that’s up to the NRL to decide, but we will be ready when we get the word that we will be participating in both the men’s and women’s competitions,” he said.