Sport & Leisure Feed

When calling league was a safety risk

Front page Post-Courier pic from the Hanuabada Hawks v Magani-Badili PRL grand final, 1974. Hawks won 44-29. Richard was probably there


BENDIGO - When we (my wife and I) lived in Port Moresby during the 1960s and 70s there were five member clubs of the Papuan Rugby League (PRL).

These were Kone Tigers (gold and black), Paga (light blue), Magani-Badili (maroon), DCA or Department of Civil Aviation (white with a blue V) and Hanuabada Hawks (green and white — mainly green).

Continue reading "When calling league was a safety risk" »

No casino - we have enough problems

| My Land, My Country

PokiesIt is an absolutely disgusting move by the National Gaming and Control Board - Papua New Guinea’s gaming regulator - to sign off papers giving the OK for a new casino to be built in Port Moresby. It is even more disgusting that the Board sees fit to announce itself as a partner in the gambling business

LAE - Here’s are some questions for the National Gaming and Control Board.

How will the Board – the regulator – regulate itself as a partner and the investor in the event that there are offences committed against the law?

Continue reading "No casino - we have enough problems" »

Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka

The Cricketer (Harry Lake  KN13)
'The Cricketer' as sketched by Harry Lake in 1964


NOOSA – In 1964, when I was in Kundiawa in my first year of teaching, a kiap called Max Orken and I started what we termed the Central Highlands Cricket Competition – Minj, Kerowagi, Chuave, Kundiawa.

The other blokes in Kundiawa wanted to play cricket – we played most weekends – but didn’t want to organise stuff, so despite my lack of aptitude at hit, throw and catch, they had made me captain and told me to get on with organising the competition.

In any other place I might have been dubbed club secretary, scorer or umpire. But in Kundiawa, the fellas compensated me for my work by making an untalented 19-year old captain and permanent member of the playing squad.

Continue reading "Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka" »

Reflections on footy & the NRL grand final


PORT MORESBY - Rugby league in Australia (managed by the NRL) is a multi-billion dollar business that was well established and has grown from strength to strength over the last 10 years.

It is a potential career pathway for many young aspiring Australians who took up the code in early childhood, whether at school or through the numerous sports clubs that have youth development programs.

Continue reading "Reflections on footy & the NRL grand final" »

PNG celebrates Justin Olam’s spot in history

Justin Olam scores the first try of the NRL grand final
Justin Olam scores the first try of the NRL grand final

| Pacific Beat | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PORT MORESBY - Rugby-mad Papua New Guinea has a new hero, Melbourne Storm player Justin Olam, who earned a spot in the history books by becoming just the fourth Papua New Guinean to be part of a winning NRL grand final team.

He is the kid from a remote village, growing up playing with a soft drink bottle filled with sand. The 26-year-old has been a true role model, providing inspiration not only in sports but with a degree in applied physics.

Continue reading "PNG celebrates Justin Olam’s spot in history" »

Olam flying high after deluge of homeland love

Justin Olam celebrates a try against CanberraPHIL LUTTON
| Sydney Morning Herald

SYDNEY - Justin Olam looks uncomfortable when his airborne try against the Raiders in the preliminary final comes up in conversation.

The Storm star is not the kind of player who seeks the limelight, let alone the highlight reel, and points out that the only reason he had to take off in last week's game was to clear a player on the ground, not to add flourish to the finish.

Continue reading "Olam flying high after deluge of homeland love" »

Elsie didn’t always do it sweet in league

Elsie Albert only started playing rugby league two years ago (NRL Photos)
Elsie Albert only started playing rugby league two years ago (NRL Photos)

| ABC | Pacific Beat | Extract

MELBOURNE - St George Illawarra Dragons recruit Elsie Albert considers herself lucky to have not had rubbish thrown at her by fans while playing rugby in her home country of Papua New Guinea.

The 24-year-old is the rugby-mad nation's first homegrown player to be picked up by an NRLW team, and is part of the squad named for today's first match of the season against the Sydney Roosters.

Continue reading "Elsie didn’t always do it sweet in league" »

The last hockey game

Graham King
Graham King in action on the hockey pitch


YUNGABURRA - I remember the date of my last hockey game as it was the same day as the more famous Live Aid concert - 13 July 1985.

My wife had gone to her village, Tubusereia, for the weekend and I was to play hockey and then go to a friend’s place to watch the concert live.

I also remember the date as it also relates to my favourite memory of Dr Jim Jacobi.  Recently there have been some photos and memories of Dr Jacobi on Facebook and I have my own story to tell.

Continue reading "The last hockey game" »

Sex, yams and cricket

| New Zealand Herald

AUCKLAND - If the Trobriand Islanders were allowed to take part in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, they would have caused quite a stir, surpassing the razzmatazz of the modern game.

From the boundary at Yalumgwa's cricket ground I'm watching a violent tribal encounter at the crease without the slightest hint of sportsmanship.

Continue reading "Sex, yams and cricket" »

Youth bulges as population booms

Spectators line a makeshift ring (Natalie Whiting)
Boxers entertain crowds of mainly young people at an after hours marketplace in Mt Hagen (Natalie Whiting)

| PNG correspondent | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

MOUNT HAGEN - The Mount Hagen Market is usually one of the busiest places in town, with hundreds of people visiting each day to buy fruit and vegetables.

But on Sundays it belongs to the City Rats and their crowd of spectators, who form a circle and watch as two men strap on shin guards and gloves. Then the fight begins.

Continue reading "Youth bulges as population booms" »

PNG's rise as world cricket heroes

PNG captain Assad Vala leads his team off the field (Peter Della Penna)
PNG captain Assad Vala leads his team off the field (Peter Della Penna)

| ESPN CricInfo

DUBAI - Papua New Guinea? Why are we talking about them now?

They've just made it to their first-ever senior cricket World Cup.

Wow. When did they start playing?

According to the International Cricket Council, the sport was introduced to the country in the 1900s by Christian missionaries from England. But their first match took place against a touring Australia XI in 1972 at Amini Park in Port Moresby, their capital. A year later, they were formally admitted as an Associate member of the ICC.

Continue reading "PNG's rise as world cricket heroes" »

PNG energy: T20 suits our play, says Assad

T20 cricket captain Assad Vala - "What this group is about is working for each other"

| SportsCafe

DUBAI - It was a dream run for Papua New Guinea as they have earned their ticket to the T20 World Cup which will take place in Australia next year.

Their skipper Assad Vala, who will lead the team in their maiden World Cup adventure, said that the format suits their energy and its what they play back home.

Continue reading "PNG energy: T20 suits our play, says Assad" »

Full match report: PNG off floor to beat Kenya

Barramundis celebrate their win (ICC)
On their way to  next year's T20 World Cup, the Barramundis celebrate their historic win (ICC)

| Emerging Cricket

Papua New Guinea 118 (Vanua 54, Bundi 4-18, Oluoch 2-15) defeated Kenya 73 (Karim 29, Vala 3-7, Pokana 3-21) by 45 runs

DUBAI – The PNG Barramundis maintained their position at the top of the Group A despite being reduced to 19/6 after being put in by a Kenyan team looking for a convincing victory and net run rate boost to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

And it was a dream start for the East African nation. Emmanuel Bundi dismissed Tony Ura, Assad Vala, and Charles Amini in his first over; the latter wicket being the first in a series of batsmen caught behind the wicket.

Continue reading "Full match report: PNG off floor to beat Kenya" »

China will fund Pacific Games stadium in Solomons

Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare  Chinese premier Li Keqiang
Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare Chinese premier Li Keqiang (standing) and other officials at the signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People Beijing China (Thomas Peter-Pool)

| Sport Business Asia

BEIJING, CHINA - China has stepped in with K250 million to bankroll the construction of the main stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands, after Honiara struggled to fund the project.

China is taking over the funding of the stadium from Taiwan, which had previously pledged the funds.

Continue reading "China will fund Pacific Games stadium in Solomons" »

The implications of Rugby’s persecution of Israel Folau

Israel Folau
Israel Folau "has not sought to persecute; all he has done is issue a heartfelt, albeit misdirected, warning"


TUMBY BAY - The appalling decision by the politically correct pedants at Rugby Australia to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for the apparently heinous offence of posting a comment on his religious beliefs has set a very dangerous precedent.

I’m not particularly inclined to get excited about grown men chasing a leather ball around a paddock nor am I inclined to believe in supreme beings but I am inclined to believe that people like Israel Folau have a perfect right to say what they believe without fear of persecution.

What he said is what he believes. He was born in New South Wales of Tongan parents. As a Pacific Islander his profound religious beliefs come as no surprise.

That he felt the need to warn people who are different to him of the imputed biblical consequences of those differences, irrelevant as that may be, is also not particularly unusual.

Continue reading "The implications of Rugby’s persecution of Israel Folau" »

Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league

Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos (Nathan Hopkins NRL)
Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos
(Nathan Hopkins NRL)


SYDNEY - For Tahina Booth, having the opportunity to play for the Cronulla Sharks in this year’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership has been a game-changer.

Tahina only recently returned to the game after some time away and is enjoying playing alongside some of the biggest names in women’s rugby league.

"When Ruan Sims speaks, I am just in awe. I am a low-key fan girl. I feel the same way about Corban McGregor. I love the team and I love the culture," she said.

Whilst Tahina may be in awe of her team-mates, she hasn’t had the opportunity to share her personal story with them. Undoubtedly, if the rest of the team knew that story, they would be low-key fan-girling about her, too.

Tahina grew up in Papua New Guinea and has a deep personal understanding about the levels of gender inequality that exist there.

Continue reading "Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league" »

Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball


PORT MORESBY - After six years of tribal fighting, the youth of Komo in Hela Province have taken it upon themselves to reject violence and start the first ever rugby competition.

“We started this about six weeks ago,” said Dr Michael Mai patron of the Komo Rugby Football League Association (KRL) at the official launch last month.

“This is history in the making, a dawn of a new day for this electorate.

“As we are all aware this place was once a no go zone. Komo was a ghost town with no activity except for security vehicles driving up and down the roads.”

Seeing that the youths were being drawn into tribal fighting and substance abuse, KRL chairman Morris Edwin teamed up with Dr Mai to trial 10 teams in a Christmas touch football game.

Continue reading "Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball" »

To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league

PNG PM's XIII versus Australia (NRL)STAFF CORRESPONDENT | Reuters

SYDNEY - Australia will direct more foreign aid to develop the sport of rugby league in the Pacific, officials say, bolstering a soft power offensive against China’s growing influence in the region.

The plan, backed by prime minister Scott Morrison, aims to tap into a shared passion for the bruising game — which differs from its more globally popular cousin, rugby union — by funding more coaching clinics and exhibition matches on far-flung Pacific islands being wooed by China.

“The prime minister sees rugby league as a central component of his soft-power plan as China’s influence in the Pacific grows,” said a senior rugby league official.

Continue reading "To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league" »

Chad Soper an unlikely cricket find as Barramundis rise

Chad Soper
Chad Soper made his PNG debut in the baggy black in 2015

JOSH SIM | ABC Newcastle

NEWCASTLE - An Australia-based member of Papua New Guinea's national cricket team is confident the Pacific nation can become a powerhouse of tier-two world cricket after its success in Hong Kong last month.

Born in Port Moresby to a Papua New Guinean mother and a New Zealander father, Chad Soper grew up on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Last month he returned from a tour of Hong Kong where he was a member of PNG national side the Barramundis which completed a set of 2-1 victories in a tier two One Day International and T20 International series.

Tier two teams include Scotland, the Netherlands and Nepal, while the world's top 12 teams contest the ICC Test Championship.

But just getting to represent his nation has been an unlikely achievement for the young cricketer, now a valuable member of the world's 17th-ranked side.

Continue reading "Chad Soper an unlikely cricket find as Barramundis rise" »

Best of our new years: Smokin' Joe's Moresby encounter

2008 - Joe FrazierRICHARD JONES (2008)

BENDIGO - In the mid-1970s Muhammad Ali's greatest opponent, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, and entourage visited Port Moresby.

They were in town for a few days and Joe went a few exhibition rounds at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium. His opponent one night was James ‘Digger’ Annand, a noted rugby league player for DCA.

The fit, blond Annand towered over the former world heavyweight champion, who was of stocky build but with enormous thighs (he had to have specially tailored boxing shorts).

Digger poked out long, left leads as the ex-champ bobbed and weaved. Mercifully Joe didn't throw the famous left hook which sent Ali sprawling to the canvas in their first bout, the 1971 world championship at Madison Square Garden.

The Moresby stadium was packed on that balmy evening more than three decades ago. As ring announcer, I recall a number of Papua New Guineans bursting from their grandstand seats, pushing through the security cordon and throwing a few choice words Frazier's way from ringside.

"Joe Fraz-ee-yah. You not in the same class as Muhammad Ali,'' was the refrain before the interlopers were hustled away. Frazier might have been a great fighter, but for the PNG boxing fans, Ali was their man.

Now what’s the best puripuri – stuff from Rabaul or from the Gulf?

Sean Dorney
Sean Dorney was an ABC journalist in PNG around the time he captained the national rugby league team


SYDNEY – As you, my more faithful readers, will already know from my previous scribblings, during my time in Papua New Guinea I had the pleasure and privilege of playing rugby league with some highly talented players, both Papua New Guinean and expatriate.

Of the latter group Sean Dorney and Bill Phillips were standouts. In the 1975 season the three of us were the only expats playing for the Port Moresby Club, Paga. The rest of the team was mainly drawn from the New Guinea Islands.

Towards the end of the season we had to play Gulf, a team of big tough players drawn mainly from Gulf Province. A win for us was essential if we were to qualify for the finals.

So to ensure this was the case, one of Paga’s committee was dispatched to Rabaul to obtain a magic potion, or puripuri, which, we were told, if applied to the body would result in certain victory.

Prior to the game we all smeared it on. All over ourselves. Good Rabaul puripuri.

Continue reading "Now what’s the best puripuri – stuff from Rabaul or from the Gulf?" »

Open yer meat pies, sink the slipper & go the biff! Get me?

1974 team
The 1974 New Guinea team that beat Papua in Port Moresby. The game ended in a riot


SYDNEY - Nicknames are common in sport; particularly so in adult male teams. Many rugby league players who graced the playing fields of Port Moresby in the 1960s and 1970s boasted a wide variety of monikers.

Some came to Moresby from ‘down south’ with them already attached by some other body who hadn’t bother to explain them to us.

So we didn’t know why DCA’s James Annand was always referred to as ‘Digger’ or Barry van Heekeren was ‘Mocha’.

But many others were christened after they arrived and, in our usual lazy way, we simply linked. nicknames to surnames.

One more colourful handle I remember was that of Magani lower grade coach Jim Taylor who was called ‘Squizzy’ after the notorious Melbourne criminal.

Continue reading "Open yer meat pies, sink the slipper & go the biff! Get me?" »

The day the sport of kings took on an entirely new meaning

Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty with Midge Didham aboard wins the 1980 Caulfield Cup at 66/1 - lucky for some


SYDNEY - Occasionally I like to have a small flutter on the horses, usually with little success. But it’s a pleasant pursuit I continued through my PNG days and the infrequent win was always a cause of great delight.

The only time I won anything worthwhile was when former Papua New Guinea colonial politician John Pasquarelli (later Pauline Hansen's controversial adviser) advised me to back his horse, Luddenham Lass, which won.

Trevor Downs, owner of the Vanimo Hotel, also tipped me his horse, Binatang. It didn’t win but came second at odds of 100/1 so I still collected.

But my biggest pay-day ever in PNG was purely by accident. Back in the 1970s I used to regularly back a magnificent grey horse, Ming Dynasty and I had wagered on him when he won the Caulfield Cup in 1977.

Continue reading "The day the sport of kings took on an entirely new meaning" »

Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes

Digger Annand
After Digger Annand left PNG he played rugby league in Australia. Here he prepares to take a ball for Taree United


SYDNEY - During Port Moresby rugby league’s off season in the 1960s and 1970s, some players turned to boxing to keep fit.

Bouts were usually held at the old Nita Theatre in Tabari Place, Boroko, though sometimes bigger promotions were held at Lloyd Robson Oval or Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.

The biggest boxing attraction from rugby league ranks was the big James ‘Digger’ Annand, a talented and tough second rower cum centre from the DCA club. Digger was also a competent heavyweight boxer.

After a series of bouts against second rate opponents from Port Moresby’s league ranks, a group of expatriate promoters matched him with a known fighter from Australia, a man named Doug Beer.

Beer claimed to be the “heavyweight champion of the Riverina”, whatever that meant. In reality he had featured in only 14 bouts, winning a few but on the losing end of most.

Moreover he had been knocked out in his last two fights which had taken place about two years before his appearance in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes" »

The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL

Papua v New Guinea 1964
Program for the annual Papua versus New Guinea encounter, 1964


SYDNEY - In the 1960s and 1970s there was only once place to be in Port Moresby on Friday night, well during the footie season anyway.

The place was the Papuan Rugby League ground in Boroko, play starting with Reserve Grade at six followed by A Grade at nine, usually finishing around 10.30 which gave most club members four or five hours to get well lubricated.

Although there were only five A Grade clubs the standard of play was high and supporters very committed to their teams. As the consumption of alcohol escalated, so did the noise of barracking.

But, as tough and skilled as were the games, the real action took place after the final whistle of A Grade. The downstairs area of the club became a venue for Games Night, each club taking it in turn to run the events which were a valuable source of funds.

The games included Under and Overs, Crown and Anchor and, later in the evening, Two Up. As you would expect, the mix of alcohol, parochialism and gambling created a heady atmosphere although ever vigilant club officials made sure fights rarely occurred within the gambling area. After all, if things got out of hand, they could lose a lot of money and the revenue from these nights was essential. (Rugby League in PNG was professional even in those days.)

Continue reading "The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL" »

A tale of two boxers, the Queen and a happy ending

The bout
A grainy screenshot of Tumat Sogolik fighting Barry McGuigan in the controversial Commonwealth Games gold medal bout in Edmonton in 1978


SYDNEY - Boxing can be a cruel game. Not only do boxers suffer in the ring but many, even after successful careers, end up destitute; some with severe health problems.

There are few happy endings in this so called sport.

This story, however, is one of them. It involves two amateur boxers, one from Ireland and the other from a remote province of Papua New Guinea who battled out the final of the bantamweight division at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.

Barry McGuigan was a tough 17 year old from Cloves, Ireland, although he represented Northern Ireland at the Games.

Tumat Sogolik was 23 and a customs officer born in New Ireland. He was an experienced amateur having won gold at two regional boxing championships in the Pacific and was something of a national hero in PNG.

Continue reading "A tale of two boxers, the Queen and a happy ending" »

Mary Tenge: Melanesian athlete & the pride of Barengigl


BARENGIGL – Seventeen year old Mary Tenge is participating in the Melanesian athletic championship in Vanuatu and the people of Barengigl are mightily proud.

A Grade 9 student, Mary lives in Barengigl village in the Gembogl District of Simbu Province, the second child of Boi and Degba Tenge - the only girl child among their four children.

Mary – a specialised 1,500 metres and steeple chase runner - is in Papua New Guinea’s athletics team for the regional championships.

She discovered her potential as a middle distance runner in 2015 during the annual Mt Wilhelm relay marathon, the initiative of the former MP for Kundiawa-Gembogl, Tobias Kulung.

Every relay marathon team comprises six members who each run a distance of seven kilometres to complete the 46 kilometre race. Mary was the opening runner in her team and her speed over the distance led to her potential being discovered.

Continue reading "Mary Tenge: Melanesian athlete & the pride of Barengigl" »

And now the sports report – the last bastion of fair play gone


1982 Games
Stamp from 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games - 36 years later, has sport lost its way?

TUMBY BAY - I’ve been especially careful this week to avoid television sets, but it’s been harder than I thought.

Everywhere I go they are there; be it the local supermarket, airport or doctor’s surgery.

And they’re all showing the same program, the Commonwealth Games: an endless, mind-numbing cavalcade of running, jumping, swimming, pedalling and throwing of objects.

I’ve got nothing against sport; if it turns you on that’s well and good.

It’s a great equaliser and a great substitute for more violent tendencies, like warfare.

Indeed, if our great religions made sport a mandatory part of their faith the world might be a much more peaceful place.

Continue reading "And now the sports report – the last bastion of fair play gone" »

Aspirational Orchids seek to break cycle of domestic violence

Orchids (Courier-Mail)
Orchids national rugby league team - hurriedly assembled but came together brilliantly to inspire PNG

CAROLINE LAYT | Inside Sport

SYDNEY - The newly formed Papua New Guinea’s women’s rugby league team have created a much needed presence for sports women in their country following a spirited World Cup campaign.

With a United Nations report putting domestic violence levels committed against women in PNG at 67%, the Orchids have created a much needed pathway for women to aspire and escape the cycle of domestic violence.

Orchids captain Cathy Neap told Inside Sport how important the team’s presence was in giving squad members a profile at home.

Neap said her squad were now performing similar feats on the field as PNG men’s team making what she believes is a permanent change for the better.

Continue reading "Aspirational Orchids seek to break cycle of domestic violence" »

Practical & pragmatic action needed for PNG rugby league

Kumuls - winning & grinning as they make a big impact on world rugby league


PORT MORESBY - It’s time to take stock after the 2017 Rugby League World Cup

The PNG Hunters this year won the Queensland Intrust-Super Cup after being in the competition just four years.

Riding on the back of that success, our national team, the Kumuls, surpassed all previous records and rising above their world ranking of 16 by winning all pool games in front of parochial sell-out crowds at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

Now, with PNG knocked out in the quarter finals, the hard lessons need to be learned. Let this world cup be the beginning of bigger and better things for PNG Rugby League.

PNG rugby league board and management have hinted that they need to put in place a junior program, including a schoolboys program. These must happen without haste in 2018.

Continue reading "Practical & pragmatic action needed for PNG rugby league" »

Kumuls need to keep down error count to challenge England

Josh Hodgson and James Segeyaro (Gregg Porteous & David Buller)
Josh Hodgson & James Segeyaro


England v Papua New Guinea, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Sunday 4pm AEDT

MELBOURNE - England face an undefeated Papua New Guinea side who venture outside Port Moresby for the first time in this Rugby League World Cup.

Wayne Bennett's England side has shown patches of what they are capable of, without yet putting in an 80-minute performance, with victories over France (36-6) and Lebanon (29-10).

The Kumuls come to Melbourne after accounting for Wales, Ireland and the USA by a combined 128-12.

The English get Sam Burgess back who returns from a knee injury and will start in the second row, with Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins replacing Stefan Ratchford and Mark Percival in the backline.

Continue reading "Kumuls need to keep down error count to challenge England" »

Kumuls can knock England out of world cup says Paul Aiton

Paul Aiton


LONDON - Paul Aiton is convinced Papua New Guinea can pull off a major shock by knocking England out of the World Cup.

Aiton and his Kumuls team will have eight million fans screaming them on back in PNG.

The Catalans and former Leeds star admits even he’s in awe of the passion in a country where rugby league is the national sport.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of trouble with politics and tribal stuff but when we play for the Kumuls everyone is behind us.

“It is hard for other people to understand. PNG people just love the game - they even clap if the other team does something well which is unreal.”

England are big favourites to win Sunday’s quarter-final in Melbourne but Aiton insists his side also have their eyes on the semi-finals. He said: “Our chances are very good, 50-50 as far as we’re concerned. We are training to win.”

Continue reading "Kumuls can knock England out of world cup says Paul Aiton" »

Women’s rugby league's power for change in PNG


Cathy Neap
Cathy Neap - rugby league is helping redefine PNG women

SYDNEY - No one needs to tell Papua New Guinea captain Cathy Neap about the power of the Women's Rugby League World Cup.

And it's not about growing the game, as league is already PNG's national pastime.

The fact is that women are now playing at the highest level has helped the country's female population overcome one of the nation's worst-kept secrets: an alarmingly high rate of domestic violence.

Cathy Neap plays in the back row for the Orchids and is proud to captain PNG at their first World Cup appearance. She says she owes rugby league another debt of gratitude.

"Definitely this game is working for us, for the women. We are gaining respect from the men in my country," she told

Continue reading "Women’s rugby league's power for change in PNG" »

Ireland coach: ‘Our match against PNG is like a grand final’

Oliver Roberts featured for the Wolfhounds in their win against Italy
Oliver Roberts featured for the Wolfhounds in their match against Italy


PORT MORESBY - Ireland's rugby league world cup pool game today against co-hosts Papua New Guinea will be their ‘grand final’ according to Irish coach Mark Aston.

Ireland beat Italy 36-12 in their first match, while Papua New Guinea were 50-6 winners over Wales.

Aston, who has worked with a number of PNG’s players at Sheffield, has stuck with the same side to face the Group C leaders in Port Moresby.

"We've got a plan and, if we execute it, then who knows?" he said.

"To get a look at them against Wales was great for us. We're not going to be shocked."

Continue reading "Ireland coach: ‘Our match against PNG is like a grand final’" »

Kumuls take on Ireland - & we predict a 16-point PNG win

The mighty Kumuls
The mighty Kumuls take on the Irish Wolfhounds

DREW DARBYSHIRE | Love Rugby League

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea will welcome Ireland to Port Moresby tomorrow, with the Irish going into the game with nothing to lose.

The Kumuls stole the headlines last weekend on and off the field as  they eased past Wales 50-6 in front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 15,000 in the PNG capital.

Meanwhile, Ireland surprised quite a few people as they put in a dominant display against an Italy side full of experience and were 36-12 victors in Cairns.

All the pressure is now on the Kumuls though, as they are the home nation and play all three of their group games in Port Moresby, which is the hotbed for rugby league in PNG.

Continue reading "Kumuls take on Ireland - & we predict a 16-point PNG win" »

I'm excited about the World Cup – one reason is the PNG Orchids

PNG Orchids
PNG Orchids celebrate a try against the Jillaroos (Brendan Esposito)

MARY KONSTANTOPOULOS | Ladies Who League | Edited extracts

SYDNEY - The countdown officially over, yesterday the 2017 Rugby League World Cup began.

Whilst the Kangaroos and England, who played last night with a hard fought win for Australia, are expected to be two of the strongest teams taking part in the tournament, it has been 45 years since the Paul Barriere Trophy was last claimed by England and England failed to qualify for the last three tournament finals.

The English national team will be looking to change that in 2017.

Whilst there may be plenty of anticipation ahead of the opening clash of the tournament, if you have been following the media you will know that the build-up to this particular Rugby League World Cup has had plenty of interesting storylines.

Continue reading "I'm excited about the World Cup – one reason is the PNG Orchids" »

Passion to progress: PNG poised to enjoy best ever World Cup

NICK CAMPTON | Daily Telegraph

David Mead will captain PNG in his third World Cup
David Mead will captain PNG in his third rugby league world cup

THE strides Papua New Guinean rugby league has taken in the last few years alone are quite staggering.

The PNG Hunters’ victory in the Queensland Cup grand final can be counted as one of the finest days in rugby league’s history for that country, and perhaps as one of their greatest wins in any sport.

Forget what you saw at ANZ Stadium on NRL grand final day, when the overmatched Hunters were flattened out mentally. Their achievement the week before, the performance of rugby league in Papua New Guinea is finally matching the passion.

Rugby league law dictates I must divulge the well known fact that rugby league is the national sport in Papua New Guinea, but the stories of the locals’ hunger for the game are well known. The love for the code in that part of the world is intense beyond almost anything you’ll ever see in Australia.

Continue reading "Passion to progress: PNG poised to enjoy best ever World Cup" »

Intrust Championship: Hunters won’t let down PNG & Queensland

PNG Hunters celebrate their finals win
"For at least one day, the Hunters will be Queenslanders"

RIKKI-LEE ARNOLD | The Courier-Mail

BRISBANE - WHEN COACH Michael Marum talks about what Sunday’s Intrust Super Championship means to the PNG Hunters, it’s not just another chance to win for their country, but also for their state.

Marum’s team made history last weekend, when they claimed their first Intrust Super Cup premiership.

Today they represent the entire Queensland competition as they come up against the winners of the NSW competition, the Penrith Panthers.

For Marum, this means that for at least one day, the Hunters will be Queenslanders.

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Rugby league rising: the Papua New Guinea Hunters

PNG Hunters 2
“We will put up a fight for you. We’re gonna do it, and we will never back down”

| Extract (read the full article here)

TODAY: PNG Hunters v Penrith Panthers: 2.40pm (Queensland time) at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Watch the game live on Channel 9

PORT MORESBY - “We will put up a fight for you. We’re gonna do it, and we will never back down.”

Those words from their team song are enough to tell you what the PNG Hunters are all about. A loyal following behind them, they are the only non-Australian based side in the whole of the National Rugby League, and they are out with a point to prove.

Four years after their formation, they were crowned as the first non-Queensland side to win the Queensland Cup (reserve grade) after defeating the Sunshine Coast Falcons in a dramatic final.

Today they have their biggest clash so far, against NSW Cup champions the Penrith Panthers in the In-Trust State Championship blockbuster.

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The Hunters famous win - an inspiration to fight for PNG

SAM KOIM The crowd

BRISBANE - The PNG Hunters made all of us proud at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

The opponents, the Sunshine Coast Falcons, scooped up two easy tries at the start of the game which got many PNG fans wondering whether we'd ever make it.

Our boys came back as ferocious raging bulls, nullifying our opponent’s every claim of territory, and proceeded to take complete control of the game.

Our emotions all hung out when our boys claimed the last winning try to seal victory.

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An ode to the PNG Hunters

DeterminationMALUM NALU

They came from north of the border
To the colosseum at Suncorp
Modern-day gladiators
Hunters from Papua New Guinea

They carried the hopes and dreams of a nation
Upon their shoulders
So much gloom, doom and despair
A little ray of sunshine was needed

All was lost, it seemed
When in from the cold came Willie Minoga
Like a runaway freight train from Enga
Grounding the ball at the last minute

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Oz players on playing league against PNG: ‘I got hit by granite’

Australia v PNGJAMES BUCKLEY | Fairfax Media | Edited extract

SYDNEY - Speak to anyone that's played rugby league in Papua New Guinea, and they will all furnish you with unbelievable stories of the insatiable passion the locals possess for their national sport.

PNG is a developing and diverse country with more than 800 languages, high crime and significant unemployment, but rugby league is the constant that unites its eight million people.

But when their Australian heroes come to these shores for the annual Prime Minister's XIII fixture against Papua New Guinea, played yesterday, quite often that lust for the game bubbles over into tragedy.

Cronulla back rower Wade Graham played his first PM's XIII match in 2012 and it's an experience he'll never forget.

"The grandstand collapsed the year I was there and a few people died, it was pretty full on," Graham said.

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Heaps of people from PNG to see Hunters, says Justin Olam

Sunshine Coast Falcons centre Justin Olam (Warren Lynam)
Justin Olam in full flight for the Sunshine Coast Falcons

TOM THREADINGHAM | Sunshine Coast Daily

MAROOCHYDORE -: Although Sunshine Coast Falcon Justin Olam says he is proud of his fellow PNG Hunters countrymen for achieving a spot in the final, come kick-off there will be no love lost.

Olam played for the Hunters last year and before that he was part of Lae Snax Tigers.

The centre expects a tough clash in Sunday afternoon’s Intrust Super Cup grand final in Brisbane, but said there was no rivalry or ill-will between the Hunters and himself.

"It's a bit different and I've never played against my (old) team like that in such big games but I'm a Falcon so I'll give my best for the Falcons,” he said.

"It's just a game, it’s not about rivalry or whatever.

"I think they are going to play hard to win the game and we will play hard to win the game and that's it.”

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Sudden contract termination leaves dismays PNG cricket coach


DIPAK Patel says his abrupt departure as Papua New Guinea cricket coach has left a "sour taste" in his mouth.

The former New Zealand international had been in charge for three years, leading the Barramundis to their first four-day and one-day international victories and 16th place in the World T20 rankings.

Patel's contract was due to expire at the end of next month but he said a new deal had been agreed before Cricket PNG informed him 10 days ago that his tenure was over.

"I didn't really have a lot of time - I suppose it didn't really sink in, didn't give me that opportunity to be honest with you - the fact that I was just given a week’s notice to terminate my contract," Patel said.

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The beautiful and challenging inconsistencies of sport

PNG Hunters in trainingPHILIP KAI MORRE

WHEN the first Olympic Games were held in Athens, the motto adopted was ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, which means faster, higher and stronger.

The Olympic creed was not to win but to take part, not to have conquered but to have fought well.

All participating athletes swear the Olympic oath in which they promise to respect and follow the rules of good sportsmanship.

The Olympic flame symbolises the continuity between the ancient and modern games, for the torch is lit by the sun’s rays in Olympia, Greece, and carried by relay runners to the host site. It is an ancient tradition that is kept alive in all countries including Papua New Guinea.

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Sport is just not me, but other people love it apparently

Paul Aiton in action for Papua New Guinea (Fox Sports)PHIL FITZPATRICK

I HAVE never really understood sport, especially the organised kind like football and cricket. It all seems a bit silly and frivolous.

And yet millions, maybe billions, of people swear by it and can get quite emotional, even violent, about a game.

Papua New Guinea’s obsession with rugby is a good example. There are apparently several forms of rugby and I’m not sure which one prevails there or what the differences are. Anyway, people in PNG have died arguing about whichever one it is.

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‘Demigod’ Mal Meninga explains why he quit the Kumuls

Mal MeningaSTEVE MASCORD | Fairfax Media | Edited extracts

MAL Meninga has broken his silence on allegations he callously walked out on Papua New Guinea mid-contract to take the Australian coaching job, saying, "I just didn't get paid".

The fact Meninga beat Wayne Bennett to the Australian post wasn't the only controversial aspect of the appointment.

At the time he was offered the job, the former Australia captain already had a Test coaching position – in a country where he is considered a demigod.

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State of Origin fanatics, this is your poem

State of Origin face paintingJIMMY AWAGL

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

PNG fanatics are mounting for Origin
Their agenda is focussed on Origin
Their emotions, desires, confidence
Resources, time and effort, all

Bragging about Blues or Maroons
To the climax of the day’s celebration
Face painting Blues or Maroons
Flag raising Blues or Maroons

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