By KEITH PUARIA
PAPUA New Guinea will know in seven days whether the country will have a team taking part in the 2013 Queensland Rugby Leagues Intrust Super Cup or not.
“It’s been a long and intense six month process but we are pretty confident, we’re 80% confident of getting the nod,” PNG National Rugby League Bid chief executive officer Brad Tassell said.
Tassell yesterday revealed that a meeting by the QRL board in Melbourne last Thursday tabled PNG’s submission, and drew a positive response from all members, and clubs in the current competition.
“It’s been positive. They now go back to re-drawing and working towards accommodating an extra team in their schedule.
“It’s an even 12-team competition at the moment, and the addition will obviously make it an uneven draw. They want to work around all areas to cover for the team.
“They’ll meet again on the June 7, before any confirmation is made, so we’re looking forward to it.”
He added that the outcome could also see a potential trip by the QRL board to Port Moresby to inspect the facilities for the proposed team’s home matches – Lloyd Robson Oval.
Entry into the QRL Intrust Super Cup, downgraded from the county’s original bid to have a team in the highest Australian rugby league competition, the NRL, has been deemed however as the next best step going forward.
Tassell made it very clear that there would be no favouritism r in selection.
All players eligible would have to be playing in the local competitions and the Digicel Cup.
“The team will be 100% local born and bred talent selected from all rugby league competitions, including the Digicel Cup, with consideration for players that have come through the junior programmes.
“A six month scouting period will commence as soon as we get the nod, from where a squad of 40 players will be picked by November.
“This will be further trimmed to a 25-man full time squad, which will go into camp in January, and right through to the season, based out of Port Moresby,” Tassell said.
Tassell made special mention of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s support in writing personally to the QRL to seek entry of a PNG team, and his government’s commitment of K1.5 million to initial preparations and running of the programme.
“The team will be run as a full professional franchise, like the Australian NRL clubs,” Tassell said.
Current Kumuls on playing stints overseas have shown great interest in the QRL concept because it will provide the quality rugby league that they have gone overseas to seek.
Draws for the QRL season could see the team play about six home games in the season.
The Intrust Super Cup is made up of teams from around Queensland, and includes a full playing roster of clubs Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Redcliffe Dolphins, Tweed Heads Seagulls, Easts Tigers, Northern Pride, Mackay Cutters, Ipswich Jets, Norths Devils, Central Capras, Burleigh Bears, Souths Logan Magpies and Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles.
Tassell said a public promotion would be driven by the PNG NRL Bid office for public suggestions for a name for the team, when an official decision was reached by the QRL.
14th March 2014