The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013
By HENRY MORABANG
PAPUA New Guinea will have a team in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup competition next year.
Minister for Sports Justin Tkatchenko made the announcement at a news conference in Port Moresby yesterday, describing PNG’s entry into the competition as a milestone for rugby league and the country.
The Port Moresby Vipers played one season of the Queensland Cup in the mid 1990s but pulled out after having funding and management difficulties.
“It is an amazing achievement in a short space of time when rugby league game was brought to its knees with niggling politics,” Tkatchenko said.
Yet to be named, the PNG team will provide opportunities for the countries best footballers to be part of a quality competition in Australia.
Tkatchenko said this was the first step toward an National Rugby League team.
Security concerns for travelling teams remain a stumbling block for the entry of the Queensland Cup’s 13th club, especially in the wake of last month’s deadly attack on the Black Cat trail in Morobe.
Flanked by NCD Governor Powes Parkop, PNGRFL deputy chairman Sandis Tsaka and the SP Brewery managing director Stan Joyce (the team’s official sponsor) for the new Queensland Cup franchise, Tkatchenko said Queensland Rugby League (QRL) had agreed that the games would be played at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo, East New Britain, and from time to time would be rotated between other centres, including Lae and Goroka.
“We want to bring the game to the people of Papua New Guinea,” Tkatchenko said.
Parkop said he was a relieved and happy man yesterday.
Speaking as chairman of the PNG Rugby League Foundation, he said PNG should be in a celebration mood as they had put one foot within reaching the ultimate goal of entering a team into the NRL competition.
The foundation has changed its strategy to have a team in the Queensland Cup before heading for NRL.
“We have not abandoned plans to have a team in the NRL. Queensland Cup is the stepping stone for bigger things to come once the talks on the expansion opens up in 2018,” Parkop said.
Maroons coach and Kumuls coaching director 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 programmes 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.”