Since 2014 the Papua New Guinea Hunters have been a tier two professional Rugby League team, playing in the Intrust Super Cup.
During this time the club has won the competition once in 2017 and are definitely the league’s most popular side.
This likely comes down to the fact that Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world where Rugby League is the national sport.
This has lead many to consider the possibility of a Papua New Guinea based NRL team and whether or not it would actually work.
First of all, they certainly have the facilities, with the PNG Hunters currently playing out of The National Football Stadium, a 14,800 seater state of the art sporting complex.
They also obviously have the fan base, with Rugby League being the national sport.
In February 2018, the Hunters managed to attract a sellout crowd to their trial game against the Brisbane Broncos, with the Sharks and Bulldogs set to attract a similar crowd when they play a preseason game in Port Moresby later this month.
However, there are some concerns around a PNG based NRL team.
The major one is player safety, as Port Moresby’s murder rate alone is 54 per 100,000 civilians, there is cause for concern.
Papua New Guinea is also a developing currently with a vastly different culture to Australia or New Zealand, meaning any Australian player moving there would be met with a huge culture shock that they may not be able to handle.
However, one solution many have come up with for this dilemma is to base the team in Cairns, however, play in Port Moresby.
This would mean the players would live and train in Cairns, meaning foreign players would feel more comfortable, with the team then taking a one hour and thirty-five-minute flight to Port Moresby every second weekend to play their games.
This would make playing for a Papua New Guinea based NRL side a more tantalising prospect for some of the game’s biggest names.
In terms of expansion Papua New Guinea is not a priority area as of yet, however certainly will be soon, especially if the NRL do expand into the priority areas first, which will be discussed in an upcoming article so stay tuned.