PNG Hunters secure their future after positive progress in growth

Drew Darbyshire

The PNG Hunters have secured their future in the Queensland Cup until the end of 2022, with 11 of their players being picked up by professional clubs in the off-season.

The Hunters signed off on a new four-year participation agreement with QRL officials in Brisbane after 18 months of negotiation which included the necessary funding from the NRL.

Papua New Guinea’s professional club side have provided development pathways for their players, with 11 of them being picked up by NRL, Super League or other Queensland Cup sides in the recent off-season.

Queensland Rugby League competitions manager David Maiden told “The NRL is mindful of expansion at the second-tier level so they have assisted us with whole of game funding to allow PNG to continue to participate in our competition, not through QRL funding.

“We welcome PNG into our competition because they bring huge amounts of benefits to it, but our charter is to look after Queensland Rugby League grassroots all the way through, so we can’t devote significant amounts of funding to PNG to the detriment of the grassroots.

“Their own charter was to establish a pathway for their players and that is exactly what they are doing.”

The Hunters have brought increased crowds to games due to the large ex-pat community in Queensland and also provided opportunities for Queensland-based players to experience another culture in Papua New Guinea.

There are plans to include a Toowoomba-based side in the Queensland Cup from 2021.