THE Hunters’ participation in the Queensland Intrust Cup has significantly improved the standard of rugby league in Papua New Guinea.
The Hunters winning last year’s Queensland Cup was a great accomplishment for rugby league in this country. The PNG Rugby Football League should be commended for its plan to increase the number of Digicel Cup teams next year.
This demonstrates the growth and development of rugby league.
Essentially, a wider range of communities will now be able to take pride and ownership of a provincial team in the semi-professional competition.
However, there is a growing concern with the expansion of the Digicel Cup because PNGRL has not revealed how to open up the narrow pathway to the Queensland Cup.
From next year onwards, more players will be added to the long queue already waiting for a Hunters call-up.
PNG has a vast rugby league fan base, several world-class stadiums and is capable of hosting two teams instead of a single Hunters team. If you consider the other 13 Queensland-based teams, each team represents a city or suburb, which places PNG in an ideal position to bid for a second franchise
in the Intrust Cup.
Players, coaches and ordinary people who follow the Digicel Cup argue that the Hunters and Kumuls are keen to see a second PNG franchise in Queensland Cup to accommodate the increasing pool of players at Digicel Cup level.
The Hunters programme has proven successful in a four-years period, which has significantly benefited the Kumuls.
Having a second PNG-based Queensland Cup team will create healthy competition for Kumul spots and expose more local talent
overseas. If the PNG Hunters have set a good precedence, the PNGRL needs to map out a new strategic plan and take it up with the sports minister to see if the Government can fund a second PNG-based Queensland Cup team.
Hunters Tok Stret