Papua New Guinea’s bid to become the 18th team in the NRL has gathered support from Cairns in North Queensland.
Cairns is in somewhat of an exile from NRL, hosting its last game in 2018.
Bob Manning, the mayor of Cairns, believes the city can play a part in PNG’s bid to become the NRL’s 18th side.
It was only a week ago when the PNG government and the PNGRFL announced their campaign to be part of the NRL by 2030 – a bid which is being financially supported by the PNG government.
Manning believes that if Cairns and PNG can partner together, the benefits arising from this situation is far greater.
“This is about a PNG proposal and we support that,” Mr Manning told the media in Australia.
“We would support that with open arms.”
Mr Manning said the bid’s chances of success would improve if Cairns was involved, with player recruitment a key factor.
“I don’t say that out of ignorance, or out of trying to be smart or something, but I think it stands to reason when you look at it all [and] weigh it up,” he said.
‘Would [PNG] go somewhere else? I don’t know. Do they have to go somewhere else? Probably not.
“But they will come under huge scrutiny from the NRL because the NRL has to make sure the club can stand up.”
Rugby league is the number one sport in PNG and the interest among the population is definitely there.
The bid is not only being touted as a sporting campaign but is being pushed as a venture that would improve relationships between Australia and PNG.
This was made clear by the PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka during the launch of the bid last week.
Mr Manning seems to be on the same wavelength. According to him, the joint bid would ensure tourism links, partnerships with universities and Cairns and Port Moresby fostering sister city relationships.
However, the PNG government has so far stayed quiet on the possibility of a joint bid.
The bid is not PNG’s alone, with other cities in Australia and a kiwi bid to have a second team in the NRL.
The final decision will be up to the Australian Rugby League Commission.