Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to announce his backing of a Papau New Guinea-based team in the NRL.
The PM is touching down in the Pacific Ocean state today in order to deliver a speech to the PNG parliament and strengthen ties with the country.
And one of those ways he intends to do that is through the island and Australia’s ‘shared passion for rugby league’.
Fox Sports reports that Mr Albanese is expected to say: “Today I affirm my view that I want to see a PNG-based, Pacific Islander team compete in the National Rugby League competition.
“Sport is such a genuine and powerful way of building strong and lasting ties between our peoples, at a code and club and community and family level.”
The Prime Minister told Australian reporters on Wednesday that he was ‘very keen’ to see a team from PNG compete in the league.
He appeared on ABC Radio to reaffirm his backing and claimed he would discuss the idea with PNG counterpart James Marape.
Mr Albanese said: “Of course, those links are so important — that we have those cultural links and our common interests.
"And one of our common interests is, of course, our passion for rugby league."
It isn’t the first time Albanese has thrown his support behind the idea either.
After meeting Mr Marape at the Pacific Island Forum in July last year he noted that he was keen on the idea of a Pasifika NRL team.
The two Prime Ministers have bonded over their shared love of rugby league since Albanese was elected into office.
The pair met to watch their respective countries compete in the Prime Minister’s XIII rugby league clash in Brisbane in September.
They also got together to watch the State of Origin last year.
Albanese is expected to reference the meeting in his speech.
He will say: “When Prime Minister Marape and I watched the State of Origin together in Suva last year, he said there are only three days your country stops — Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3.
“That’s something I think a lot of Australians can relate to.”
Papua New Guinea already has a team competing in the Queensland Rugby League Cup and has been pushing to be included in the NRL as its 18th team.
Its expected the nation would likely join forces with Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Fiji to form a Pasifika team.
Featured Image Credit: NRL/Supplied.