Sport: PNG to host Rugby League World Cup matches
Papua New Guinea to host matches at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, with Samoa and Fiji also in discussions with organisers.
Papua New Guinea will host a minimum of two matches at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, with the potential for further matches throughout the Pacific.
Australia and New Zealand have been named joint hosts, with the Trans-Tasman bid beating out a proposal by South Africa.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League, Brad Tassell, says they were first approached by Australia about the possibility of hosting some matches at the tournament.
BRAD TASSELL: It's a huge thing for Papua New Guinea and it took us a nanosecond to come back and say yes. That was with support from the government and obviously from the PNGRFL. It would be a massive thing for the country. We're going through a lot of restructure and a lot of the facilities are being refurbished so we will have some great venues by 2017 that's for sure.
Brad Tassell says PNG's goal is to make the semi finals of the 2017 tournament. He says playing in front of 25,000 home supporters will be a massive advantage for the Kumuls and they'll take as many games as they can get.
BRAD TASSELLL: We would actually like to host an entire pool here if possible that Papua New Guinea plays in so we're in discussions with the organisers. Definitely we want to host home games [and] we'd love to also host a pool if that opportunity became available because we would have the facilities and the capacity to be able to do that by 2017.
The CEO of New Zealand Rugby League Phil Holden says including the Pacific was a key thrust in the bid presentation to the Rugby League International Federation. He says spreading games throughout the wider Pacific region will enable the momentum gained from last year's World Cup to continue.
PHIL HOLDEN: So there will be a pool based in Far North Queensland. That was part of our proposal, of which a couple of games would be played in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. And then there was discussion during the actual presentation whether there might be an opportunity to play a fixture in the South Pacific somewhere, either Fiji or Samoa. Again, that's all got to be worked through but the Papua New Guinea one is locked in.
The President of Rugby League Samoa, Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a, says having a World Cup on their back doorstep is great news with large Samoan populations in both New Zealand and Australia. He says hosting games in Samoa wasn't originally in the plan but he believes it is doable.
TAGALOA FAAFOUINA SU'A: Almost every team in the NRL they have players from the Pacific Islands - either Tonga, Rarotonga, Fiji, Samoa. It would be really good for the growth of the game to stage some matches back in the islands if we have the resources and the infrastructure, which we believe we do, but it will all depend on the resolutions from the executive board and members of the RLIF.
Meanwhile it's been confirmed Samoa will take on Fiji in the second annual Pacific Test in Sydney in May, with the winner to compete alongside New Zealand, Australia and England in the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.
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