- Australia set to invest $600million into Papua New Guinea NRL team
- Financial pledge over a decade, PNG likely to be NRL’s 18th franchise
- Comes as China’s influence into Port Moresby continues to grow
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reportedly made a stunning financial promise to Papua New Guinea, who are rapidly firming to be the next NRL franchise.
It can be revealed Albanese has spoken to PNG counterpart James Marape about a reported $600million investment across 10 years.
According to sources, the team would be based in Cairns in far north Queensland where NRL matches will be staged as well as in Port Moresby, where China’s influence continues to grow.
Albanese is yet to made any public comments on the funding proposal – but PNG deputy leader John Rosso revealed what’s been going on behind the scenes.
‘Australia has promised to help advance our aspiration to have a National Rugby League team in Australia,’ he told News Corp.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reportedly made a stunning financial promise to Papua New Guinea, who are firming by the minute to be the next NRL franchise
It can be revealed Albanese has spoken to PNG counterpart James Marape about a $600million investment across 10 years
‘Papuneans are mad about rugby league and having a Papunean team in the NRL would be really good … Australia is supporting and partnering with us to realise those aspirations.
‘There has been discussions, between our prime minister [James Marape] and the Australian Prime Minister. I think there’s a pretty good partnership there.’
Footy supremo Peter V’landys recently stated sport was an opportunity for Australia to exercise ‘soft diplomacy’ in the Pacific.
‘Sport is greatly underestimated in its ability to capture the hearts and minds of people,’ the Australian Rugby League Commission chairman said.
The NRL is littered with players of PNG descent, notably Rabbitohs try-scoring ace Alex Johnston (pictured)
‘If you can educate the population, it has an undoubted benefit and sport is one of the ways you can do that.
‘The kids [in PNG} refuse to go to school but if you provide them with sport, and competition, they want to be part of that.
‘They see their idols playing footy on TV every week and they see the competition at school as a pathway to that.’
The NRL is littered with players of PNG descent, notably Rabbitohs try-scoring ace Alex Johnston, Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam and Dragons forward Jack de Belin.