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Sydney-based NRL fans could learn something from the manic support rugby league gets in PNG

Sam Thaiday trains for the Prime Minister's XIII. Picture: Mark Evans
NRL fans who refuse to attend matches should be made to read this story.

As rugby league in Sydney fails to attract significant semi-final crowds, Papua New Guinea footy fans are in a frenzy.

So much so, some will have actually walked for three days to watch Sunday’s game between Australia’s Prime Minister’s XIII and the Kumuls in Kokopo, south of Rabaul.

The PM’s side arrived in Cairns on Thursday before flying into Port Moresby on a chartered flight on Friday morning and then continuing onto the island of East New Britain.

“Heaps of people will have travelled lot of days to get to Kokopo," said team manager Tas Baitieri.

“People will walk three days to come to the match.

“Because it is an island, lots will have got on boats and come from Lae and Madang across the sea.

“We had a game in Lae three years ago and people walked for three days to get to the game.

“Lae is up in the highlands and the territory is rough."

The NRL has ensured security will be tight in PNG.NRL stars have been warned they will literally be mobbed on arrival.

“All the security is sorted, there is no drama," Baiteri said.

“When you carry the Prime Minister’s tag, if something was to happen, it would be ‘PM’s team in trouble’.

“But nothing has been left unturned. We’ve got police and guards. We have taken every precaution so we don’t have an incident.

“We haven’t had an incident in eight years and I don’t think we will have one this year.

“The fans get overly-enthusiastic seeing their idols face-to-face. All they want to do is get a photo with them. The PNG population appreciate good footy.

“We are going to East New Britain as well which is a little bit different to the PNG mainland."

PM’s XIII coach Laurie Daley said his side was excited about their Kokopo visit.

“Some of the guys that have been there before know what to expect and some of the guys that haven’t have been told," Daley said.

“Where we are going is very secure and the people of PNG love their footy and their footy stars.

“The NRL players over there are gods and will be treated as such.

“It will be a great match and something the guys will look back on fondly and see it as a great experience."

The PM’s side trained on Thursday afternoon at Barlow Park, Cairns, before attending a Men of League dinner on Thursday night. 

The Telegraphy
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