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Papua New Guinea in talks over 2017 Rugby League World Cup role

The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) is reportedly considering adding Papua New Guinea as a co-host for the 2017 World Cup.

Australia and New Zealand are due to co-host the 2017 edition of rugby league’s showpiece national team tournament, but the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said Papua New Guinea could be considered as a destination for at least one game.

Four pools will make up the tournament with the Australia and New Zealand national teams being based in their home countries. Negotiations are taking place to have Papua New Guinea as a third host but the RLIF is also said to be considering Fiji for this role.

Andrew Hill, general manager of league integration and game development for Australian league the NRL, said: “Part of our bid to the international federation was to look at how we could assist the broader rugby league strategy in the Pacific. Papua New Guinea have expressed an interest in hosting a game or games.

“We've begun discussions with the Sports Minister of Papua New Guinea and over the next couple of months we'll get into more detail. We've had a couple of preliminary discussions. It's got past general chat. It's now about the logistics and the contribution Papua New Guinea would need to make to hosting a match of that status.”

Despite concerns over security, logistics, stadium and broadcast abilities in Papua New Guinea, the country does boast a high public interest in rugby league. Hill also said that the country has successfully hosted high-profile games in the past and visiting teams have spoken highly of their experiences.

“Teams who have come here have been very complimentary with the way in which everything has worked,” Hill said. “At the back of the Pacific Games and the Papua New Guinea Games being held this year and next year, there will be infrastructure built that would be appropriate to host World Cup games.”