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Call for PNG NRL team

DEPARTING Canterbury Bulldogs captain James Graham says Papua New Guinea should be seriously considered for inclusion in the NRL.
Impressed with the country’s passion and performance, the English forward is adamant that any expansion plans should include the country where rugby league is the national sport.
The PNG Hunters qualified for their first Queensland Cup final on the weekend, in the club’s fourth campaign since entering the competition in 2014.
Boasting a big fan base in Queensland, the Hunters’ grand final at Suncorp Stadium is tipped to be the best attended in the competition’s history.
They pack a punch on the field too, said Graham who was left impressed after the two tests he played against the Kumuls during the 2010 Four Nations and the 2008 World Cup.
Graham, who will play for St George next season, said any talk of competition expansion had to include Australia’s northern neighbour.
“You talk about adding a second Brisbane team or a team on the Central Coast … I think we have to get a team there,” Graham said on Fox Sports’ NRL 360.
“They really do epitomise what it means to lift (when playing) for your country.”
Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack are on track to one day play in the English Super League after earning promotion to the second tier Kingstone Press Championship on the weekend.
Graham said if that could work, then there was no reason an NRL side could not be based in PNG.
“If England can get a Toronto-based team playing in the Super League … there’s so much potential there (PNG) and it’s something that, if expansion is on the table, you’ve got to talk about a team from PNG,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s XIII will play PNG at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby on Sept 23, while the country will also host three World Cup games later this year.
NSW prop Aaron Woods will lead the Prime Minister’s contingent and is expecting another tough clash against the men “built like granite”.
 – Sunshine Coast Daily
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