Leigh Leopards are in talks to stage a game in Papua New Guinea as early as this year – with head coach Adrian Lam revealing there is a growing link between the town and the country.
The Leopards will play in their first Challenge Cup final in over 50 years this weekend, and there will be a heavy PNG representation in their group.
Lam himself hails from the country, while the likes of Edwin Ipape and Lachlan Lam have also represented the Kumuls on the international stage.
But they could now represent their club side in Papua New Guinea too, with Leopards owner Derek Beaumont enthused about the prospect of a tour to the country which could involve at least one fixture.
Lam told Love Rugby League that talks have already begun about a possible trip: and it could happen sooner, rather than later.
“I can sense a link growing,” Lam said. “I’m told a lot of our interactions on social media are driven from PNG and the surrounding areas too. It’s massive.
“I’ve talked to Derek about it and it’s something we as a club would like to explore further… So watch this space.
“Whether it could potentially happen this year coming or the year after, it’ll certainly happen, it’s just a case of when now, I think.
“We’ve got a few of their key players in our team and rugby league is massive there. The link only makes sense.”
Lam is also hopeful the relationship could run deeper than just a one-off game too, saying: “If we could get a proper commitment formed there between the club and the country I think we can do wonders, and Derek is excited about that too.
“He loves that sort of thing and it’s an open canvas in the sense of we could do anything with this opportunity.
“We’ve had a lot of talks and we’ll see what comes of it.”
Edwin Ipape wants to help spread Leigh Leopards brand in his homeland
Leigh hooker Ipape is another who is enthused about the idea of spreading the Leopards brand in Papua New Guinea, and admits he too has held talks with Beaumont about a possible trip to the nation on a pre-season tour.
“I’ve been talking about that for a while now,” Ipape told Love Rugby League.
“I told Derek a couple of times, I said we need to make that happen.
“It’s going to be good for the Leopards brand and Super League as a whole just to get the popularity of Super League back in Papua New Guinea and to get the connections with PNG going.
“I think it would be good for us, I hope they make it happen sooner rather than later so we can have a trial match.
“We could do a pre-season trial and be camping there for two or three weeks, play two or three trials there and then come back and off we go to the season.”