Bigger venue needed

The National, Thursday July 21st, 2016

THE National Football Stadium in Port Moresby may be less than 12-months-old, but representatives from the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League will lobby the Government for an expansion of the stadium to cater for the demand ahead next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
For the first time in 25 years, PNG will host three World Cup pool games next year, with the Kumuls set to play the United States and two of the European qualifiers in games that will send local footy fans into a frenzy.
When the PNG Hunters played their first Intrust Super Cup game at the Sir John Guise Stadium in June last year against the Souths Logan Magpies, the 15,000 capacity was sold-out in a matter of days and the Hunters regularly attract crowds to the revamped National Stadium (formerly Lloyd Robson Oval) in excess of 10,000.
When the World Cup draw for the Kumuls was released on Tuesday, it wasn’t revealed at which of the two stadiums the games would be played but Kumuls and Hunters coach Michael Marum said neither are currently big enough to house the number of fans who will want to attend next year.
“We’ve had a lot of people turn up for (PNG Hunters) games without tickets due to tickets being all sold-out. With the World Cup, 15,000 for our games up there won’t be enough for our supporters,” Marum told
“There might be a lot of people hanging around outside waiting to get in so that is something that our board and president would probably have to look at. They’re going to be big games. Definitely there will be people coming from all over the country to watch those three games in the city.
“In past World Cups, we have played away from home so this is their chance to come along and support us.”
Titans fullback David Mead led the Kumuls to a 24-22 victory over Fiji in the Pacific Test in May and said the prospect of playing World Cup games in PNG was already one that had him excited.
“To have three games at home is obviously a big boost for the country, not just for the players but for all the people of PNG because rugby league is their national sport,” Mead said.
“It’s going to be unbelievable, I can already feel it.
“I played in the 2009 Pacific Cup over there and it wasn’t even really a stadium, it was just a couple of stands.
“There’s a proper stadium there now so the atmosphere’s going to be huge,” the Gold Coast Titans flier said.
“People say that when the Hunters play over there,they hear the noise from miles away so it’s going to be pretty big over there.”
On the back of their win over Fiji earlier this year, the Kumuls moved up three places on the Rugby League International Federation’s world rankings but still sit behind the likes of Scotland, USA and Wales in 11th position.
The introduction of the Hunters into Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup competition two years ago has given PNG-based players a great springboard into professional rugby league and Marum said the national team received a heroes’ welcome after their win over Fiji.
“Everyone spoke about the Test match for over a week,” Marum said.
PNG’s first game of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will be against a European qualifier in Port Moresby on Saturday, October 28.