Pacific Islanders have it easier : Former PNG Kumuls Captain

John Wilshere in action for PNG. Getty Images
KUMULS 2008 World Cup captain John Wilshere says Papua New Guineans will always find it difficult getting into the National Rugby League.
Speaking to Sean Dorney of ABC Radio this week, the 35-year-old said other Pacific Island nations had an advantage over Papua New Guinea as they could chose from a larger pool of talent already living and playing in Australia.
“You’ve got a large number of Tongans, Samoans, Fijians and New Zealanders playing in the NRL,” he said. 
“While there is less than a handful of Papua New Guineans.
“I think the pathway for the other Pacific Islanders is a lot more open to them. 
“They come and settle in Australia and have that exposure to NRL grassroots development, New Zealand Rugby League grassroots development. So they’ve put themselves in a good frame to be able to access that type of development as juniors that’s needed in order for them to excel in the top tier competition such as the NRL.”
Wilshere said it was harder for PNG players to play in Australia but hopefully things would be easier in the future.
“I’m not to savvy on the actual law and what it stipulates but it’s certainly a harder route for our boys to be playing in the NRL,” lshere.
“Hopefully, over time our boys can eventually make it into the NRL. 
“Whether it’s based on pure skill and talent which there’s an abundance of. But, again, it may just be an immigration issue,” Wilshere  said. He said one reason why clubs were hesitant about getting players from PNG was that the costs outweighed the return.
“For a club in Australia, an NRL club or a Queensland Cup team or a New South Wales Cup team – for them to want to invest in a player from PNG at this stage, I think, you have to be an extreme talent or possess something that really makes a club sit back and say, ‘This is why we want to invest in a player from PNG!’ As opposed to, for the same amount of money – say they sign a player from PNG and he comes down as a fringe first grader, maybe on $50,000, then a club will weigh up the options – do we invest in a PNG player for this much money or can we invest in two juniors for the same amount of money and who have already had that exposure to the development programmes in Australia or New Zealand or do we invest in the guy from PNG to come down here who has possibly never been overseas before. Then you have to accommodate him and make sure – it becomes a player welfare issue.”

The National /PNG Facts
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