The likes of Leeds Rhinos and Leigh Leopards could face a major transfer problem in the coming years.
This is because Papua New Guinea are striving to become the 18th team in the NRL. It is being reported down under that if PNG get the nod, it is expected that players like Rodrick Tai, halfback Lachlan Lam, hooker Edwin Ipape – the man-of-the-match from their final Pacific Shield win – and second-rower Rhyse Martin would be targeted to return from Super League.
However, PNG coach Justin Holbrook said work was being done now to ensure that more talent from Papua New Guinea found their way to the NRL and that would strengthen the Kumuls, who are currently No.6 in the IRL World Rankings.
“I’m thrilled for everyone, the staff, the players and obviously the whole country. It’s great to win the Pacific Bowl,” Holbrook said.
“It was very enjoyable to be a part of and with the development that they’re working hard on with the pathways here in this country, the rugby league and the players are going to really accelerate quickly and be a force in the future.”
Leigh Leopards star Lachlan Lam had his say on the situation. The halfback has played NRL for Sydney Roosters and was recently targeted by Canberra Raiders for 2024 but turned them down in favour of signing a new deal with Leigh Leopards.
“I think a lot of people underestimate what PNG can do on PNG soil,” Lam said.
“After being together for a long time in camp and bonding, you’d have to be a very good team to come here and beat us on our best day.
“Next year in Fiji will be an unreal time too and as a group we are definitely looking forward to that.”
As for Leeds star Martin, he s now a certified PNG legend having become the country’s most capped player.
However, he has made a real home for himself at Headingley and has become one of their best players in the last half a decade and the club won’t want to see their goal kicking expert leave any time soon even if it is to pursue a dream.