Hunters partner with Dolphins


THE SP Hunters and new National Rugby League (NRL) franchise, the Dolphins, have formed a partnership which will include participation in a full NRL pre-season for four young Papua New Guinean players.
This agreement will provide a genuine pathway for PNG rugby league players, beginning in the Digicel Cup, through to the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored Hunters and into an NRL system.
The partnership is in alignment with the Hunters’ strategic plan to develop more PNG players for the NRL by 2025.
Under the agreement, four Hunters players will attend a full pre-season with the Dolphins’ NRL squad, starting next year.
Of those four players, two will be selected by the Dolphins to stay on and train with their NRL squad for the remainder of the season.
If not selected to play for the Dolphins’ NRL side, those players will come back and play for the Hunters in Queensland’s Hostplus Cup.
Hunters chief executive Scott Barker said the partnership was a huge opportunity to develop PNG talents to the NRL level.
“I am extremely thankful that the Dolphins have recognised the pathway that the Hunters can provide,” he said.
“We know that there is a wealth of rugby league talent and potential within PNG, and this is the next step in our mission to introduce that talent into the NRL.
“I am excited about this partnership and the opportunities it will bring for PNG players.”
Hunters chairman Stan Joyce said the partnership was another boost towards the goal of seeing more PNG players in the NRL.
“On behalf of the Hunters’ board and management, I’m really pleased to see this partnership come together,” he said.
“This is a big step towards creating a genuine pathway for PNG rugby league players into the NRL, something the Hunters will continue working tirelessly towards.”
Dolphins chief executive Terry Reader said the Dolphins recognised the talents of PNG players and wanted the club to play a major role in developing them.
“Through previous visits to the country, we understand how passionate PNG is about rugby league,” he said.
“Our head coach, Wayne Bennett has long admired the unique talent players from Papua New Guinea possess and the way they approach the game. We are very pleased to offer a pathway for player development that will open up opportunities for players from that country to succeed at the highest level.”