Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
There is one thing everybody knows about the nation of Papua New Guinea and that is that they love their Rugby League.
Our great game has been able to captivate Australia’s northern neighbours and gained a gargantuan following since the sport first being introduced to the island nation by Australian soldiers during World War II in the 1940s. Fast forward 80 years and PNG is now the only country in the world where Rugby League is the national sport.
Speaking of the world, the Rugby League World Cup is taking place at the end of this year and Papua New Guinea will be taking part as they have since 1985.
At the 2017 World Cup, the Kumuls were able to equal their best finish in the tournament when they qualified for the quarter-finals for the second time.
They were unfortunately eliminated by eventual runners up England in a 36-6 loss.
PNG is expected to finish this year’s World Cup in around the same spot as they did in 2017 but do find themselves in the tournament’s toughest group as they will take on the Cook Islands, Tonga and Wales in Group D.
A finish anywhere beyond the quarter-finals is to be considered a huge achievement.
Not only are the Kumuls looking to have a strong campaign at the World Cup but the PNGRFL is currently putting together a bid that has been backed by the Papua New Guinean government to base the NRL’s 18th franchise in PNG.
Former Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill has recently been appointed as a consultant for the bid with PNGRFL CEO Stanley Hondina speaking to Brad Walter of the NRL’s official website about Hill’s role.
“The workshop also served as the official engagement of Mr Hill as the lead consultant at this stage, until the overall structure is being set, and that title may change,” Hondina said.
“We congratulate Andrew on his appointment as well as we welcome him to the team, we are confident with having Andrew on board to lead the bid team going forward.”
It looks like the rest of 2022 is shaping up to be quite a big year for Papua New Guinean Rugby League with the Rugby League World Cup on the horizon and a chance at being represented in the NRL.