PAPUA New Guinea Rugby Football League will be pushing for the revival of the Pacific Cup and an additional international match later this year in addition to the traditional annual Prime Ministers XIII clash against the Australian Kangaroos.
Chairman Sandis Tsaka and CEO Brad Tassell will put forward PNG’s intentions at the two-‐day Rugby League International Federation meeting in Australia, which starts on Thursday, May 1.
Both flew out on Wednesday for the meeting in Sydney and are hopeful of securing confirmation from a member RLIF country to visit PNG for a one-‐off international this year the week after the scheduled PM 13 match.
Australia and PNG have been involved in the annual Prime Ministers XIII match for the last few years but Tsaka believes another match would be of huge benefit to PNG players and give them additional exposure to quality international matches, which is needed to improve the performances and competitiveness of PNG at an international level.
The Pacific Cup was last staged in 2009 and hosted by PNG, which also doubled up as a qualifying tournament to decide the fourth country to join Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain in the Four Nations tournament.
The PNG Kumuls won the tournament ahead of eventual finalists Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga to proceed to the Four Nations in 2010 in Australia and New Zealand.
“We also want to push for confirmation of Papua New Guinea’s intention to host an entire pool for the 2017 World Cup,” Tsaka said.
Australia and New Zealand have been confirmed as co-‐hosts for the next World Cup but while there have been reports that some matches would be played in PNG, “nothing has been set in stone yet”, Tsaka said.
“We want to lock that in at this meeting so that we can start preparations in plenty of time,” he said.
“We also want to bring back the Pacific Cup so that it provides Pacific islands countries an international competition that gives our players an opportunity to play Test standard-‐like football to gauge our standards before the 2017 World Cup.”
Tassell said they would also hold discussions with participating countries regarding the Nines (9s) component of the rugby league competition at next year’s Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
According to the itinerary released to delegates there is an Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation Annual General Meeting and Asia Pacific Rugby League Board Meeting on Thursday.
On Friday is when the RLIF AGM is scheduled for the morning with its board meeting in the afternoon.
Delegates will also have the opportunity to watch the ANZAC Test match between Australia and New Zealand that night.
On Saturday delegates will watch the Under 20s Origin match between New South Wales and Queensland at 5.30pm before the Pacific Test between Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati.
Meetings will also be held with Canterbury Bulldogs and the NRL on various issues and proposed initiatives over the next 12 months.
Costs for the trip are being meet by the RLIF and Tsaka and Tassell said the trip has come at an ideal time, when they can maximize on the opportunity by confirming the PNGRFL international calendar for the next few years right up to the 2017 World Cup.