MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Tesi Niu of the Broncos tackles Justin Olam of the Storm during the round four NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park, on April 02, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

New Wests Tigers recruit and Papua New Guinean star centre Justin Olam has handed the NRL a major warning over their potential plans to expand into the Island nation.

The NRL are currently in the process of preparing to add an 18th team to the competition, following the admission of the Dolphins for the 2023 campaign.

The Redcliffe-based team created an issue for the NRL, with the return of the dreaded bye, and the competition hvae made no secret of the fact they will move quickly in an attempt to add a ninth game per weekend by admission of an 18th team.

While the typical favourites - another Queensland-based team, a second team in New Zealand or the long-awaited bid from Perth - have all been mentioned, it's a bid from Papua New Guinea which is believed to be the favourite.

That comes with an Australian federal government financial guarantee, with Anthony Albanese's government attempting to buy the support of their closest neigbour as Chinese influence continues to make its way into the Pacific region.

It has been heavily reported any team successful in bidding from Papua New Guinea would actually be based in Northern Australia, playing a number of games in Port Moresby each year given the logisitcal issues of a team in Port Moresby, combined with the desire of top flight players wanting to relocate to the nation.

But Olam told AAP the NRL simply can't do that, and should wait until the pathways and structures can support a team based in Papua New Guinea, filled with local players.

"Unless they're based in Port Moresby then it's an Aussie team that's going to have the label of PNG," Olam told AAP.

"I don't think it's good, I want a PNG team based in PNG for PNG players.

"For us to have that, we need to invest in our junior competition and build our pathways first because (NRL) is a big jump."

It has been widely speculated an expansion team will join the NRL in 2027 in line with the next TV deal, however, for that to be the case, the game will need to make an announcement within the next 18 months ahead of the November 1, 2025 deadline when players off-contract at the end of 2027 become available to negotiate with rival clubs.

Papua New Guinea have hosted matches in both the Rugby League World Cup and Pacific Championships at the Port Moresby national stadium in recent years with success.

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