Papua New Guinea continues to make waves in the fight for the NRL's 18th licence, with a sold-out crowd on Saturday welcoming the Australian Prime Minister's XI to Port Moresby.

It'll likely be the same result in the coming weeks when the capital city hosts a four-week tri-series featuring their beloved Kumuls, Fiji and the Cook Islands, as well as two women's games.

Rugby league is as good as a religion in Papua New Guinea, which is one of only two countries in the world where the sport is the national game, the Cook Islands being the other although it's in direct competition with rugby union for that mantle there.

You only have to listen to PM's XI star forward Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, who has played State of Origin and was part of last year's Rugby League World Cup in England to understand just how much the sport means in the island nation.

“This is my first time in PNG, it was one of the most crazy experiences I've ever had in my rugby league career,” Fa'asuamaleaui said per NRL.com after Saturday's win.

“The crowd was loud; it was almost as loud as an Origin game.

“We couldn't really hear each other out there.

“I thought I would be the lowest name here in the team and I didn't think I'd really get noticed, but arriving at the airport and even at the game there, I saw that many big signs saying 'Big Tino, the Enforcer'.

"The people were very welcoming and it was a great experience, so I will definitely remember that.

“And they're just such a good team, such a good culture and such good people around the place. It's something I will remember forever.”

Already the Australian federal government has pledged big dollars for a Papua New Guinean franchise to enter the NRL. That has external influences it must be noted, with the likely effect of the cause being to lock up support of the nation's government with China continuing to enroach on the South Pacific.

But money for a Papua New Guinean team is likely to be one of the big roadblocks, with corporate support in the nation unlikely to match that which could be provided in Australia, even if the eventual 18th team is to be based in a rugby league outcast like Western Australian.

Listening to those in the known in the west of the country, support for the sport continues to grow, and the crowds achieved for a double-header earlier this year prove that.

Despite the fact the Western Reds fell on their sword during the first attempt at a team in Perth, crowds were never abysmal, and the facilities are ready to roll for a second attempt.

Perth might be the popular choice, and a second team in New Zealand will only gain more and more attention following Saturday. It's a topic which is sure to be continually brought up as sell out crowds gather to watch the Kumuls go around in the coming weeks.

The crowds for the QLD Cup team also go to show just how popular the sport is in the country.

But there are still significant questions, even with support and a federal government package.

Ultimately, to prove a success in the NRL both on and off the field, any potential expansion club needs to be able to generate your own revenue, and attract players to play for you.

That's one thing the Dolphins had going for them when they entered the competition as the 17th team. Wayne Bennett is a coach players want to play under, and when compared to the outrageous living expenses in Sydney and Melbourne, the south east corner of Queensland, complete with its excellent weather, is a place players want to go.

Dolphins Training Session

It's difficult to say players may view the same about Papua New Guinea, no matter how special each week's game day atmosphere might be with fans packing out the national stadium time and time again.

That in itself is another issue - Port Moresby's main stadium will need an expansion if it is to ever become a fully-fledged NRL host.

Ultimately, with road blocks in the way, the NRL's next expansion - likely in the next five years at a stretch - will likely be either Perth or a second New Zealand team, but the dream for a Papua New Guinean rugby league team must stay alive.

The improvement of players within the QLD Cup pathway, the performances of stars like Justin Olam and the general support for the game shows there is the potential for a team in Port Moresby down the track.

It's an area - like all of the Pacific Islands - the NRL must win over. Rugby league must become the long-term number one support in all of the southern Pacific territoties to sustain itself, its growth, and its development long-term.

It just must be approached carefully, because expansion into the territories too soon could sound the death bell.