Adrian Lam backs Papua New Guinea bid to have a team in NRL

Adrian Lam SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Papua New Guinea legend Adrian Lam has thrown his support behind his country’s bid to have a team in the NRL by 2030.

PNG has launched its bid to have a team in the NRL, which could be expanded to 18 teams within the next 10 years.

The Dolphins will become the NRL’s latest club when they join the competition in 2023. And there is further talk of expansion, with Papua New Guinea and Perth pushing to have sides in the NRL. Brisbane and New Zealand also want another representative in the mix.

Papua New Guinea’s bid was launched on Wednesday night. It was backed by Prime Minister James Marape and Sports Minister Wesley Raminai.

The nation already have a base in Australia. Lam was involved in the PNG Hunters’ bidding process to get a team in the Queensland Cup.

Speaking to Love Rugby League about PNG’s bid to have a team in the NRL, Adrian Lam said: “They’ve been down this process before and it dissolved quite quickly. I was part of the group with Mal Meninga that drove the application to make the Q Cup status.

“I thought that was a priority at the time and we got that across the line. Since then, the PNG Hunters have won the competition and it certainly helped the country as a rugby league nation.

“No reason why Papua New Guinea couldn’t have a team”

“I think it is a great opportunity for the only country in the world where rugby league is the national sport to have the opportunity to submit the application.

“It is quite bold but I think it is justified considering the love of rugby league up there. It is bigger than any other country even though there is only seven million people there.

“When you look at New Zealand Warriors having a team, there is no reason why Papua New Guinea couldn’t have a team.

“From Cairns, it is only an hour’s flight so it is only across the boarder there and there would be no logistical problem. I’m excited for them and hopefully it gets pushed ahead aggressively.”

Jack de Belin to represent Papua New Guinea

Jack de Belin PA

St George Illawarra Dragons forward Jack de Belin has declared his interest in representing his Papua New Guinean heritage at the World Cup this year.

Although born and raised in Australia, de Belin qualifies to play for Papua New Guinea as his grandmother  was born there while her parents were severing has missionaries.

Adrian Lam coached the Kumuls in the 2008 and 2013 World Cups. He revealed he tried to get de Belin to play for his side in the 2013 tournament.

Lam said: “I only spoke to Jack last year about it as well. Players like Jack would be a great help to the country. They’ve got some quality players coming through there.

“He mentioned to be that he’d be interested in it but at the time he couldn’t. I think we are at a different level with him now and hopefully he can make himself available.

“There are one or two around that aren’t aware that they can represent Papua New Guinea. I’m sure they are going to be digging dip to find their best players.”

PODCAST: Kallum Watkins on playing in the pack, time in NRL & World Cup ambitions

About Drew Darbyshire 7865 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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