Sport: PNG Hunters a welcome addition to Qld rugby league

1:33 pm on 13 September 2018

The Papua New Guinea Hunters are expected to commit to the Intrust Super Cup for another four years, the Queensland Rugby League says.

The Hunters' initial five year license concluded this season when the defending champions failed to make the playoffs of the Australian state competition.

PNG Hunters halfback Watson Boas shapes to kick.

PNG Hunters halfback Watson Boas shapes to kick. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Melvin Levongo

However, the league's competitions manager, Dave Maiden, said he was confident the PNG side would renew its membership.

"From our point of view it's a given that they'll continue to be involved in our competition," Maiden said.

"Their inclusion has been welcomed and encouraged and we look forward to having them in for the remaining four years of the television deal, " he said.

"All our clubs will be signing a four year participation agreement and I imagine the Hunters will be one of those."

Under coach Michael Marum, the Hunters joined the league "in the middle of a funding cycle" which had led to significant financial requirements being placed on the Port Moresby side.

"They had to pay for their team's and all visiting team's travel and accommodation," Maiden said.

"We hadn't given them any assistance the initial couple of years, then from there we've gradually built up their grants," he said.

"But they still need to support their and each travelling team's accommodation and meals and unfortunately that can't change because there's no additional funding for them.

"Whilst it might seem tough, they have a population of eight million and they're a national team. They have access to national resources, sponsors and supporters."

A sold out crowd turned up to watch the Kumuls outclass Wales at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

A sold out crowd turned up to watch the Kumuls outclass Wales at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby. Photo: NRL Photos

Hunters fans were also a welcome addition to the competition with the financial injection they had provided through gate sales at Hunters' away games.

"They're always popular. You get a lot of PNG expats over here coming to watch them wherever they go," Maiden said.

"They've certainly helped increase the crowds. The initial year was a massive increase, it's dropped since then but they're still significant contributors to the gate takings for each of the grounds they go to."

The atmosphere at the Hunters' ground in Port Moresby had become the ultimate experience in rugby league for some Australian players, Maiden said.

"When our teams get to go over to PNG and they play at the National Football Stadium over there, for a lot of our younger participants it'll be the biggest crowd they've ever played in front of and certainly the loudest and most knowledgeable," he said.

"That may be the pinnacle of their career if they don't go onto the NRL (National Rugby League)."

The PNG Hunters are back on home soil.

The PNG Hunters are back on home soil. Photo: Facebook/SP PNG Hunters

In terms of rising to the upper echelon of rugby league in Australia, the state administrator said he would not be surprised if a PNG club was one day included in the NRL.

Maiden would also encourage other state leagues to consider including Pacific teams.

"They certainly add to your competition, there's no doubt about it. There's a whole heap of logistic nightmares that come with it but the benefits far outweigh those."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs