Thursday, September 19, 2013

Papua New Guinea takes first step towards an NRL team with Queensland Cup entrant

Source: couriermail,

by:Chris Garry and Peter Badel, From:The Courier-Mail, September 19, 201312:00AM
A Kumuls mascot walks onto the field before a PNG game. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: DailyTelegraph

A PAPUA New Guinea team is set to join the Intrust Super Cup as a bold step in the rugby league-mad nations pursuit of an NRL franchise.
Security concerns for travelling teams remain a stumbling block for the entry of the ISC’s 13th club, especially in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on the Black Cat trail.
It is understood the PNG government will cover costs for private security teams to accompany Queensland-based players into Port Morseby, the club’s home.
A handful of ISC clubs are not in favour of PNG gaining admission, with Norths chief executive Mark Murray wanting financial stability for the established clubs to come first.
ISC general manager Jamie O’Connor said in-principle agreement had been given to the PNG group, headed by veteran league administration Brad Tassell, for a start next year.
"They have applied for entry and been given conditional support by the board, subject to some clauses that need to be agreed to,” O’Connor said.
"We are working through those conditions at the moment. Security is a major issue, as are details of travel and medical care.
"We are hoping to have things locked away by grand final week but nothing is in stone.
"One of the conditions is that this does not cost us, because quite simply we cannot afford to expand right now. PNG will pay their own way.
"There is a great opportunity over there to expand our brand through broadcasting in PNG."
The PNG team could even play curtainraisers to NRL matches, with the ARL Commission considering a dramatic revamp of the code’s second tier and relegating the under-20s competition to midweek.
The team, whose home ground will be Port Morseby’s Lloyd Robson Oval, will be able to recruit players from Australia but it is expected to be largely made up of local players.
Maroons coach and PNG Kumuls assistant Mal Meninga is a supporter of the club’s entry to the ISC.
"Having a PNG team playing in the ISC would just do wonders for the programs that they have in place up there," Meninga wrote in his Sunday Mail column earlier this year.
"It creates another pathway. They can play footy, earn money, and get recognised and go on to bigger and better things."
The Port Morseby Vipers played in the Queensland Cup in 1996 and 1997, but pulled out due to financial issues.
Murray said his club was not against the PNG team, but ensuring current clubs stayed afloat should be the priority.
"The club group want stability around the competition and the current clubs before any expansion takes place,” he said.
"We want to make sure the current clubs are looked after before we look at a PNG team. We aren’t against PNG at all, but our first priority is to stabilise the clubs and ensure their sustainability.”
The ISC will expand to 14 teams in 2015, with a Townsville Brothers team set to be included

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