Incoming Sydney Roosters assistant Justin Holbrook has been appointed head coach of Papua New Guinea ahead of this year’s Pacific Championships.
Holbrook, 47, has been in hot demand since his sacking at the Gold Coast Titans earlier this year, having turned down Warrington Wolves following Daryl Powell’s departure.
He instead opted to remain in Australia and join Trent Robinson’s coaching staff for the 2024 NRL season on a three-year deal.
The 2019 Super League winning head coach succeeds Stanley Tepend, who was appointed in May 2022 ahead of the delayed World Cup.
The Kumuls will play in a four-week Pacific Championship Tri Series later this year against Fiji and Cook Islands, kicking off on October 15.
Justin Holbrook to lead Papua New Guinea
“You only have to speak to anyone associated with the game in PNG to see the passion they have for rugby league,” Holbrook said.
“They are a country that are looking to the future and building a structure that will support the development of the game in this country for years to come.
“There is an enormous talent base of players in PNG and a real desire to compete against the best.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the players to continue their development and to build on the great work that has been done before me.”
Holbrook led St Helens to Super League glory in 2019 at Old Trafford over Salford Red Devils before returning Down Under with the Titans.
PNG LNG Kumuls chairman, Wapu Sonk, shared his delight after announcing the appointment of the much sought-after coach.
“Having someone of the calibre of Justin coaching the Kumuls is a major boost for rugby league in the country,” he said.
“He has shown that wherever he has coached he has built a reputation for developing younger players and creating a winning culture and that is something that we are looking to create with our international teams.
“Justin has been highly sought-after as a coach in recent times and so his decision to take on the head coach’s role with the Kumuls is a major vote of confidence in the plans we have in place for rugby league in this country.”