Justin Olam feels rugby league powerbrokers have not consulted him about the Papua New Guinea expansion bid for fear he will warn against fast-tracking the team’s entry into the NRL.

The premiership-winning PNG international says he is in favour of establishing a first-grade team in his homeland, but only after “a couple of years” investing in a proper pathways system.

“No one has ever chatted to me about anything, because my opinion doesn’t line up with anyone, I think,” the Wests Tigers centre told AAP of the bid to grant PNG the NRL’s 18th licence.

“So they want me to stay out of it. I don’t mind. I’ll always say what I think is best for the young kids back home because I’ve come through the path and I know what it is.

“I’m speaking from what I’ve experienced. I’m not talking out of the blue. This is what I think it is, because most of the people in power have never lived that life.”

The Australian Rugby League Commission will meet next Wednesday for the latest round of expansion talks, with teams from PNG, Perth and New Zealand all options to enter the NRL as early as 2026.

The Australian Government is willing to pledge $600 million (US$400 million) of funding to the PNG bid in the hope a team could be a diplomatic tool to strengthen relations in the Pacific.

But the viability of enticing current NRL players to live in PNG, and the team’s ability to be immediately competitive, are possible sticking points.

The only NRL player to come through the Queensland Cup’s PNG Hunters, Olam previously questioned suggestions the NRL could solve these issues by basing PNG’s team in North Queensland.

The team now appears unlikely to fly in and fly out of PNG for games, rather basing itself in Port Morseby full-time, but Olam still has concerns.

“I think it will be a good thing for the game to have a PNG team in the NRL, the fanbase and everything is there,” he said.

“But players-wise, for me personally, I think we need to have a foundation first and that is developing grassroots football, junior football.

“I still feel like we’ve got a long way to go.”

PNG’s highest-level rugby league competition, the 12-team semi-professional Digicel Cup, would be the most logical talent pool from which the 18th team could draw.

But Olam said PNG needed a thriving schools program, and a plan to scout grassroots talent from rural areas, before the Digicel Cup was a sustainable source of NRL recruits.

“There’s heaps of talent back at home, but for me the only reason I only came and played NRL was because I went to uni,” Olam said.

“If I was in the village, I wouldn’t have been able to make it here because we don’t have that pathway.

“There’s no steps to follow or proper pathway to come and play in the Digicel Cup.

“If there’s a competition for schoolboys in PNG, the number of kids that are going to sign up to play is going to be massive.

“From that pool of talent, they can pick and have a proper pathway to develop players so they can have a good PNG team.

“My personal point of view is that I think we’re jumping a few steps. There’s nothing wrong with getting an NRL team but I think not now. In a couple of years time.”