PNG will host matches during the 2017 Rugby League Cup alongside Australia and New Zealand and the nation hopes to continue their improvement at international level.
The country now has a team entered in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup, 'the PNG Hunters', and their increasing success, along with a strong showing by the national team at the World Cup, will go a long way to strengthening their push for a place in an expanded National Rugby League Competition.
Papua New Guinea Rugby League Federation President Sandis Tsaka told NITV’s League Nation Live the exposure given to professional football has been significant in the improvement of the national team.
“The standard of Rugby League in our country is pretty good compared to other local countries. To have our boys playing in a high level competition and to get the kind of programs that the boys have been involved in, comparable to NRL level.
“That actually showed in our last Test match against Fiji in the Pacific Test this year.
“It also provides an opportunity for the thousands of Rugby League talent we have in the country. To actually play in front of NRL scouts and things, the boys get an opportunity to progress to that level so it’s been great for us,” said Tsaka.
Coach Michael Marum has taken over the coaching position from Mal Meninga and inspired the Kumuls to their first win overseas in 16 years.
PNG are assembling a strong squad for their World Cup assault, with a mixture of players for Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup and the NRL.
“We used most of our boys from the PNG Hunters team and the combinations were probably already there. The inclusion of guys like David Mead and Nene McDonald really helped.
Mead has changed his International availability back to Papua New Guinea and has been installed as captain, with his leadership proving invaluable.
“He was a good leader on the day and he realized the boys were mainly Intrust Super Cup boys and he and Nene took on more responsibility. They played with a bit more passion, having lost our games at the last World Cup.
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