After a solid first season in the Intrust Super Cup, PNG players are getting noticed and two players from the side have been offered train and trial contracts with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
After a personal tour of Kokoda, Bunnies head coach Michael Maguire felt such a connection with the PNG culture and people that he wanted the club to increase the club’s relationship with the Pacific nation.
As a result, Papua New Guinean duo Wartovo Puara and Thompson Teteh will join the Bunnies on a train-and-trial basis.
Puara, at 24, is a hooker and has played for the PNG Kumuls in the past. Teteh, 25, is a centre and was a part of the Kumuls World Cup train-on squad.
The club have seen both players before, with the duo playing for PNG in the Return to Redfern clash in 2013.
Maguire is looking forward to having the duo at the club for the 6-week period.
â€œHaving done the Kokoda Track and having formed a connection with the people I met in PNG, I wanted to explore a further connection between the Rabbitohs and the Papua New Guineans,â€ Coach Maguire said.
â€œIt really opened my eyes when I was over there about how much these people love their Rugby League and the lengths they will go to support their countrymen in their dreams of playing Rugby League at the top level.
â€œItâ€™s a real community over there and we were accepted into their communities through our connection with Rugby League and thatâ€™s something I want this Club to build on.”
Maguire is also keen to see what the PNG duo are capable of, in the hope of rewarding them with an eventual NRL contract.
â€œWartovo and Thompson will be joining us in January to train full time for six weeks and they will have an opportunity to learn from our players, train alongside them and push themselves forward for a place in our full time squad on an ongoing basis,” said Maguire.
â€œItâ€™s exciting for them to have this opportunity and weâ€™re excited to be able to provide them with this opportunity.
The opportunity for the Papua New Guinean duo means it is a chance for the club to build a successful relationship with PNG rugby league in the years to come.
â€œItâ€™s a chance to establish a pathway for Papua New Guinean players to reach NRL level and thatâ€™s exciting for everyone.â€