PNG Hunters have praised the innovative program that has helped ensure the Hunters remained in the Intrust Super Cup and set up the possibility for future growth.
The Growing and Supporting Rugby League in Papua New Guinea program assisted the Hunters in relocating to Queensland this year when Covid-19 restrictions threatened the team’s participation in the competition.
The program has been developed and supported by PacificAus Sports, backed by the Federal Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Queensland Rugby League and other valuable supporters determined to help sports in the region.
The program, which runs until 2023, aims to develop pathways for Pacific teams to play in high- level Australian competitions and for emerging PNG athletes to benefit from high performance coaching and training.
“The PNG Hunters thank all of the wonderful supporters of the Growing and Supporting Rugby League in Papua New Guinea program for their hard work during a season that proved to be challenging for all involved with Covid restrictions,” Hunters Chairman Stan Joyce CSM said.
“We’re also excited to see where this partnership can take us over the next couple of years. The resources provided as a part of the partnership have helped to strengthen the Hunters off the field and provided opportunities that will benefit many people.”
The QRL said it was pleased to continue working closely with the Hunters to deliver further outcomes.
“The QRL is looking forward to again working closely with the PNG Hunters in 2022 to deliver outcomes under the PacificAus Sports program,” a QRL spokesperson said.
The program has been responsible for delivering two key roles to support the PNG Hunters, assisted in the relocation of the PNG Hunters to Queensland to compete in 2021 and has been busy developing a high-performance program for rugby league in PNG.
Having a dedicated Wellbeing and Education Manager and a Commercial Manager mean the Hunters are now aligned to the other clubs competing in the HostPlus Cup (formerly the Intrust Super Cup).
In a first for rugby league in PNG the Wellbeing and Education Manager’s role is filled by a woman, Ms Nellie Pabulu, who is the first in PNG to have attained NRL/QRL accreditation in this field. The participation of women in all elements of sport is one of the focuses of the program.
The Hunters have resumed preseason training in Port Moresby and expect to return to Australia in the new year.