Every Papua New Guinea international to have played in Super League

Ben Olawumi
Super League logo, Papua New Guinea flag, Marcus Bai, Adrian Lam, Edwin Ipape

Kumuls Marcus Bai (left), Adrian Lam (middle) & Edwin Ipape (right) have all played - or are playing currently - in Super League

Papua New Guinea is one of two countries in the world where rugby league is the national sport – the other being the Cook Islands – and through that come some absolute gems of players.

As we detailed ahead of this season getting underway, there are now nine Kumuls representatives that are currently playing in Super League.

Love Rugby League has trawled through all of the squad lists throughout the Super League era, which shows there have been 22 Papua New Guinea internationals who have – at some point – played in the competition.

Below, we’ve taken a look at all 21 Papua New Guinea internationals who have played in Super League

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Paul Aiton (Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos, Catalans Dragons)

Mount Hagen-born Aiton spent the majority of his playing career in Super League with Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos and Catalans Dragons, making 142 appearances across the three clubs. He is the current head of the PNG Hunters who play in the Queensland Cup.

Makali Aizue (Hull KR)

Makali Aizue
Makali Aizue (centre) celebrates a try for Hull KR in a derby against Hull FC in 2008

Aizue, who was born in Goroka, was a fan favourite during his time at Hull KR, making 159 appearances between 2004 and 2009 before going on to have spells with Halifax, Dewsbury Rams and Doncaster. He represented his country in two World Cups.

Wellington Albert (Widnes Vikings, Leeds Rhinos)

Albert first made the switch to Super League back in 2018 with Widnes Vikings, and he has been playing in England ever since. He has since gone on to play for Leeds, Keighley, London and he’s currently at Featherstone. Wellington’s brother Albert also came to Widnes with him in 2018, but he never made an appearance in Super League.

Marcus Bai (Leeds Rhinos, Bradford Bulls)

The Ulamona-born winger began his professional career with Hull in 1997, playing eight games before returning Down Under. Bai came back to England in 2004 with Leeds, winning a Super League title with the Rhinos. He spent the 2006 campaign with Bradford before hanging up his boots. Bai won the World Club Challenge twice – one with the Rhinos and one with the Bulls.

Jason Chan (Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR)

Jason Chan
Jason Chan in action for Huddersfield Giants in 2013

Chan was born and raised in Sydney but qualified to represent Papua New Guinea through his family heritage. He played in Super League between 2009 and 2014 for Celtic Crusaders and Huddersfield as well as a stint with Hull KR on loan.

Nev Costigan (Hull KR)

The Rabaul-born forward spent the final season of his career in Super League, making 25 appearances for the Robins. Costigan represented the Kumuls in the 2008 and 2013 World Cups.

Stanley Gene (Hull FC, Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls, Hull KR)

Gene is one of the greatest Kumuls to play in Super League. The Goroka-born utility was pretty much a fan favourite at every club he was at, playing for Hull KR, Hull FC, Huddersfield, Bradford and Halifax whilst in England. He played for his country in three World Cups, amassing over 350 career appearances and close to 200 tries.

Liam Horne (Castleford Tigers)

Liam Horne
Liam Horne in action for Castleford Tigers in 2024

The Port Moresby-born hooker arrived in Super League midway through last season from the Queensland Cup, and is part of Castleford’s first team squad for 2024. A three-time Kumuls international, Horne has – at the time of writing – featured 10 times for the Tigers.

Edwin Ipape (Leigh Leopards)

Ipape has been a key man for Leigh ever since his move to England in 2022, crowned the Championship Player of the Year in his first season at the club. The Mount Hagen-born hooker then enjoyed his best season to date in 2023, helping the Leopards win the Challenge Cup as well as being named in the Super League Dream Team.

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Adrian Lam (Wigan Warriors)

Lam Sr is regarded as a legend in his home country Papua New Guinea, having excelled in both the NRL and Super League. The Rabaul-born half-back spent four seasons in Super League as a player with Wigan between 2001 and 2004, scoring 44 tries in 119 games for the Warriors. He is now in Super League as a head coach with Leigh.

Lachlan Lam (Leigh Leopards)

Lachlan Lam Leigh Leopards Alamy
Lachlan Lam with the Lance Todd Trophy after Leigh Leopards’ Challenge Cup triumph in 2023

Lam Jr is currently playing under his father Adrian at the Leopards, with the pair lifting the Challenge Cup together under the famous Wembley arch in 2023. Lam was named in the 2023 Super League Dream Team during the club’s first season back in Super League. Sydney-born Lam has represented his Papua New Guinean heritage in the last two World Cups.

Garry Lo (Castleford Tigers)

Mount Hagen native Lo had signed for Gateshead Thunder under Stanley Gene, but opted against the move ahead of 2015 and returned home. He eventually got his break in England with Championship side Sheffield Eagles, and would be snapped up by Castleford ahead of 2018. He scored on his Super League debut at Wigan, but that would be his only appearance for the club.

Nene Macdonald (Leeds Rhinos, Salford Red Devils)

Macdonald, who hails from Port Moresby, made the move to England with Leigh in 2022, scoring 27 tries in 27 appearances as they won promotion. He would join Leeds in the off-season however, and after a year at Headingley, he made the move to Salford. With 18 Kumuls appearances to his name, the outside-back has 26 Super League appearances on his CV to date.

Rhyse Martin (Leeds Rhinos)

Rhyse Martin Leeds Rhinos Alamy
Rhyse Martin kicking a conversion for Leeds Rhinos in 2024

Cairns-born Martin represents the Kumuls through his heritage, and he arrived at Headingley midway through the 2019 season from NRL outfit Canterbury Bulldogs. Only five men in the Super League era have scored more points for the Rhinos, with only two kicking more goals for the club in that time than the second-rower. He remains a key figure in Rohan Smith’s squad.

David Mead (Catalans Dragons)

Port Moresby-born Mead played the vast majority of his career in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans and Brisbane Broncos, but spent three seasons with Catalans in Super League. Scoring 29 tries in 58 appearances for the Dragons, he lifted the Challenge Cup with them in 2018.

Sylvester Namo (Castleford Tigers)

Powerhouse Namo arrived at the Jungle in the off-season just gone, and has – at the time of writing – appeared once in Super League, making his Tigers debut against Salford. Born in Goroka and raised in Mount Hagen, the prop has also featured on dual-registration for Newcastle Thunder this year.

Tom O’Reilly (Warrington Wolves)

Utility forward O’Reilly, a PNG native, moved to England with Bramley in 1999 and featured for Oldham in the second division the following year before playing for the Kumuls in the 2000 World Cup. His short Super League stint came at Warrington, where he made 16 appearances across ’01 & ’02 before moving on to Sheffield and eventually French outfit Pia Donkeys.

Nixon Putt (Castleford Tigers)

Nixon Putt
Nixon Putt in action for Castleford Tigers in 2024

It’s a similar story for Mount Hagen-born team-mate Putt, who also joined Cas in the off-season. The ex-PNG Hunters ace has three Super League appearances to his name at the time of writing, and has featured on dual-registration for Newcastle Thunder in League 1.

James Segeyaro (Leeds Rhinos)

Well-travelled Goroka native Segeyaro has featured in the NRL, French Elite Championship, Super League & the RFL Championship amongst others. The hooker made 10 appearances for Leeds in 2016, scoring six tries, and returned to England for the 2023 season with Bradford, playing seven times. He’s now back Down Under with the Western Suburbs Red Devils.

Rodrick Tai (Warrington Wolves)

Tai too is new to Super League in 2024 having joined Warrington from the PNG Hunters. Born in Mount Hagen, the centre has six caps for the Kumuls to his name, and has – at the time of writing – played one Super League game for Sam Burgess’ side against Catalans having scored on debut in the Challenge Cup against London the week before.

Emmanuel Waine (London Broncos)

Emmanuel Waine
Emmanuel Waine in action for London Broncos in 2024

Alphabetically, the last of the nine Kumuls involved in Super League this year is Waine, who made the jump up to the top flight with London having won promotion with the capital club last year, making 14 appearances. The Jiwaka Province native featured in the opening round of the 2024 Super League season at St Helens, but hasn’t played since.

John Wilshere (Warrington Wolves, Leigh Centurions, Salford City Reds)

Wilshere, the Kumuls’ second-highest appearance maker ever, captained them at the 2008 World Cup. Making the move to Super League with Warrington, he played eight games in 2004 and moved on to newly-promoted Leigh in ’05. After their relegation, Wilshere joined Salford, and was with them for four years, ticking past the milestone of 100 Super League appearances.