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PNG rugby league team hopeful of joining Queensland Cup, giving boost to NRL hopes

PNG to join Queensland Cup. Image credit: ABC 
Papua New Guinea's bid to join the Australian NRL has received a boost, with a PNG team looking likely to join the Queensland Cup.

The Queensland Cup has reportedly given an in-principle agreement for a PNG side to join the competition next year, subject to meeting certain conditions.

Brad Tassell, the chief executive of the PNG NRL Foundation, has told Pacific Beat they're hopeful of an official announcement in the next two weeks.

"It's been two years of planning, it's been two years of sourcing funding and sponsorship," he said.

"We've come up with preliminary names and colours, and the structure of the football operations and where the players are going to train.

"We're pretty ready to go once the button is pressed."

The team is expected to be able to recruit players from Australia, but Brad Tassell says there's more than enough local talent to support the team.

He says they are hoping that PNG's inclusion will give their players valuable exposure, and hopefully lead to careers in the NRL.

"There's literally thousands of players out there - a lot that we do know of, some that we haven't even seen yet, that have the potential at QRL or NRL level," he said.

"It's a rugby league mad country - it's the sleeping giant of rugby league in the world, and through this program it's given an opportunity for these players to be able to show their wares, and show the talent that they do have.

"I think people will be pretty surprised - it's like it will be a continuous production line of rugby league talent into the Australian competition in the future."

The PNG team is expected to host home games, with reports the PNG Government will provide private security for visiting players.

The PNG team's home ground would be the Lloyd Robinson oval, but Mr Tassell says it's being rebuilt next year, so alternatives are being investigated for the 2014 season.

"We're looking at an option of playing home games in Australia - based in Cairns," he said.

"The alternative venue is in Rabaul in Kalabond Stadium, which is a venue that has been approved as a suitable playing venue by the QRL, and also by the NRL because the PM's XIII games is being played there.

"So we've got a couple of options."

Mr Tassell says he's hopeful an official announcement will be made around the time of the annual PM's XIII clash between Australia and the Kumuls, which is scheduled for September 29.

Radio Australia
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