While Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific has acknowledged encouraging ongoing talks with PNG officials, it's crucial to note that the Australian Government has not officially thrown its support behind the bid, despite positive affirmations from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Conroy sees a collaborative opportunity that could extend beyond the NRL, benefiting both the PNG and Australian governments.
Prime Minister Albanese, reportedly supportive of a substantial $60 million package over ten years, has not yet officially committed to such a proposal or presented it to parliament. The government's stance reflects a cautious optimism, considering the potential impact and benefits of such a partnership.
Despite the absence of an official commitment from Australia, Papua New Guinea's Deputy Prime Minister, John Rosso, appears confident about PNG's NRL aspirations. Rosso has essentially characterised it as a 'done deal,' citing Australia's supposed promise to support their bid.
As discussions continue, the prospect of a PNG team in the NRL remains uncertain. The league's potential expansion and the inclusion of a PNG team would not only diversify the competition but also provide a platform for players from Australia and other Pacific nations to represent the PNG Kumuls team.
The outcome of these talks could potentially reshape the NRL's future, fostering increased diversity and opportunities for players across the Pacific region.
However, until official support from the Australian Government is confirmed, the fate of PNG's NRL aspirations remains in limbo.