Minister welcomes World Cup fixtures

The National, Thursday July 21st, 2016

SPORTS Minister Justin Tkatchenko, pictured, has welcomed the announcement of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup draw.
Tkatchenko expressed his gratitude to the Australia and New Zealand rugby leagues and the organising committee for their faith in ensuring joint hosting rights for Papua New Guinea.
“Let me clearly state here that there is no way whatsoever that this event could have come to PNG without the infrastructure that we now have, and the backing and assurance from this Government,” Tkatchenko said.
“Three to four years ago hosting any event of such a magnitude was impossible and the commitment of this Government to build world class sports infrastructure and grow sports to another level was ultimately the assurance that World Rugby League needed.
“We are a rugby league mad nation, and our visitors from the United States and Europe will see for themselves come 2017.
“This is not only a Rugby League event, but an opportunity to showcase our country to the world.
“Our visitors will be our responsibility, and it will be upon us to ensure that they leave our shores with positive stories to tell,” he said.
Tkatchenko was particularly impressed that the PNG Kumuls draw would see them play United States and two European teams on home soil.
“It is a blessing for our country to have teams from the most dominant continents in the world, America and Europe playing here in Port Moresby. Not many people know where PNG is, and who we are. This is the chance for them to find out.
“I thank the O’Neill/Dion Government for the bold decision initially to commit to sports and I commend the work of PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka and his executive so far.”
The Kumuls could face Wales and Ireland as the top two qualifiers from Europe, while Italy are the other side likely to qualify.