Sport: PNG to host rugby league 'Super Nines'

11:44 am on 9 February 2018

A rugby league nines tournament will be held in Goroka next weekend, giving local players the chance to press for selection in the Papua New Guinea team defending their title at the Commonwealth Championship in Australia.

The "PNG Super Nines" was first held in Lae in 2016 and this year's tournament will feature 16 teams, including development sides from the Digicel Cup domestic competition and representatives from the Northern, Southern, Highlands and New Guinea Islands confederates.

PNG won gold in the inaugural Commonwealth Championship in 2014, which was run as an exhibition event alongside the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, beating Australia 22-8 in the final.

Papua New Guinea Rugby League Chairman Sandis Tsaka said the tournament brings the cream of our rugby league talent together to a weekend of the shortened version of the competition.

"It provides the opportunity, not only for selection trials for the Commonwealth [Nines Championship], it provides opportunities for rural-based players to showcase their talents for Digicel Cup scouts that are around," he said.

"The Digicel Cup franchises haven't finalised their teams so it promotes that player pathway, where we bring the elite of our rugby league talent together with our junior pathways program so it will be a great weekend of football."

PNG Rugby League launches the PNG "Super 9s" event.

PNG Rugby League launches the PNG "Super 9s" event. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Melvin Levongo

Papua New Guinea Rugby League CEO Reatau Rau said it made for a busy start to the year with the PNG Hunters also hosting some high profile opposition before their Queensland Cup title defence begins in March.

"We are quite excited, especially with the Digicel Cup franchise teams getting involved and also the four confederate selected teams only the Under 23 [age group] so we look forward to this tournament," he said.

"It will be held a week before the [PNG Hunters versus Brisbane] Broncos game, so that's going to be a feast of football."

The age restriction for the this year's PNG Super Nines has been increased from Under 19s to Under 23s, in line with the changes made for the Commonwealth Champs.