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Forget the Storm: PNG's grand plan for NRL


THE PNG BID to join the NRL is well advanced, with a novel solution to the problem of PNG having limited TV coverage.

The bid team met NRL chief executive David Gallop recently and explained how it would fill a new stadium in Port Moresby with paying customers.

They would all watch away games on big screens around the arena.

This would send a powerful message to sponsors if they regularly filled a stadium.

Already, leading PNG companies support the bid. Total sponsorships exceed K5 million with Coca-Cola contributing K500,000 a year.

The PNG government has committed, wait for it, more than K20 million to the bid, much of it for the construction of a 30,000-seat stadium in Port Moresby.

This will be used during the South Pacific Games in 2015, the same year PNG hopes to field a team in the NRL.

Sports Minister Philemon Embel said: “Whatever the cost, the government is ready to build the stadium. The PNG government is 100 percent behind this NRL bid.''

A park in Port Moresby already shows NRL matches on big screens.

City Governor, Powes Parkop, says he’s enthusiastic about the role rugby league plays in bonding the nation's 800 tribes.he also claims it helps reduce crime.

''Here in Port Moresby, we have been able to translate our people’s passion for NRL into positive community initiatives,'' Parkop said.

“On game night, 15,000 people turn up to watch the game on big screens throughout the city and they reckon it is better than watching at home.

“The atmosphere is electric, but peaceful and harmonious. We endeavour to create an alcohol free environment during the show to enable families to come out, especially mothers and children.

“This initiative is helping us to transform the culture of this city which used to be known for crime and violence and other negative things.

“This is what I want David Gallop and other NRL executives to know, appreciate and experience: that the game is more than a game here in PNG. It has the ability to impact positively on all walks of life.''

An indication of the hold rugby league has on PNG was a recent edict making the sport a mandatory part of the school curriculum.

Minister Embel and Governor Parkop led the delegation to meet Gallop, with the NRL boss insisting problems must be resolved before the PNG’s bid can be taken seriously.

PNG has rejected the suggestion it should invest in a vulnerable Sydney NRL club and has opted to support the Central Coast's bid to bring the number of NRL teams to 18.

General Manager of the PNG bid is Bev Broughton, a sports marketing consultant married to Paul Broughton, chairman of the Gold Coast Titans.

* A longer version of this story was published originally in the 'Sydney Morning Herald'


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Jason Kakas

Reg hit the nail right on the head. PNG is not yet ready for the Aussie NRL bid until it sorts out its own own rugby league administration amidst the influence of local politics.

Ross (Rossco) Wilkinson

Well said Reg. I recall many crowd control issues with the annual Papua v New Guinea matches and have personal recollections of inadvertently driving through Boroko when one such match just finished.

I do not know who won, just the recollection of people streaming from the oval destroying everything in their path. A line of cars was halted as the rampaging crowd surged across the road. One of the crowd picked up a large rock and thew it through the rear window of the taxi in front of me.

I immediately did a U-turn and got the hell out of there before any damage was done to me.

In terms of the finances of participation in the Australian competition, the team must think of the cost of sending teams and officials to the various capital cities of Australia and New Zealand every second week.

Should this cost be incurred at the expense of the many other more urgent areas of expenditure?

Reginald Renagi

Roy Masters may be fueling the big media hype up in PNG and down under. Let's first put the big money issue aside for awhile and break this up in small chunks to clearly see the 'big-picture' better.

Firstly, the whole PNG NRL bid has many big flaws to it but no one wants to admit it or talk about it, but the same pollies are doing all the PR stuff.
Secondly, PNG must first fix the many flaws with the bid. It must do this before we ever get to see the big show. Yes, its one big show. This seems to be a big public relations stunt certain pollies want to get their names linked to the Australian brand.

The PNG pollies can then go on boasting to the world forever that they made it possible for this NRL bid a national and international success during their time in office. PNG has many swollen-head politicians thriving on the power of constant praise, and adulation by the public.

Thirdly, money is no object to build a 30,000 seating capacity stadium in Port Moresby. The big problem here will be faced by organizers of any big match events in Port Moresby. They can not even guarantee general security of the paying public and the teams involved here so Australians better not hold their breath with what some politicians on the PNG bid committee are saying.

For many years now a big city like Port Moresby with a perceived civilized population has not had any safe big matches played at the popular Lloyd Robson oval (Boroko PRL) due to very volatile crowd behaviour. There are no safe guarantees from pollies who will be in their VIP boxes in the grand stand during the first few opening matches with NRL teams playing in home-away games. The crowd frenzy will have to be better managed than now and numerous complaints of the public have not being successfully addressed in this very problem by relevant authorities.

Fourthly, to ever get a successful NRL bid, PNG must without doubt; convince the NRL power brokers who make the final decisions in Australia that the country has the depth in its existing rugby league structure onshore to reasonably sustain the tough Sydney NRL competition. We are just not ready yet.

Unless PNG gets its domestic rugby league set up right to continually keep feeding any Qld feeder club to eventually send them further south to play in the big Sydney competition, PNG may in reality not sustain every weekend games well. Some way out of it could be found by importing some good pacific and Australian indigenous players to supplement the PNG club/team make-up.

All in all, there is still a lot to do in PNG to properly package this NRL bid than saying we can build and fill a 30,000 seating capacity stadium. Funny thing about this so far is that it is only the 'pollies' that are talking up a storm here. The local PNG Rugby League board and administration is very quiet about this. They are not even getting excited about all this hype that Roy Masters is talking about. Is their silence saying something here?

You betcha bottom Kina here! There is more to this bid than meets the eye at present...

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