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QRL takes lead role in unique pacific program

Queensland Rugby League is pleased to provide an update on its contribution to an exciting program that is delivering positive outcomes to rugby league in Papua New Guinea.

In partnership with PacificAus Sports (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - DFAT), Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League and the PNG Hunters, the QRL has committed its expertise and resources to a three-year program.

Titled ‘Growing and Supporting Rugby League in Papua New Guinea’, the program is part of an Australian Government initiative connecting people, communities and organisations with the Pacific through sport.

Specifically, the objectives of this program are to develop pathways for PNG teams to play in high-level Australian sporting competitions.

The program also aims to create pathways for emerging athletes to benefit from high performance coaching and training, with a focus on female athlete development, wellbeing and education, and commercial sustainability.

QRL managing director Robert Moore said his organisation was proud to take on a leading role in the partnership. 

“This is a flagship initiative that everyone in the game can be proud of,” Moore said.

“We’re excited to play a part in such an exciting journey that will provide a successful pathway to all aspiring players in PNG.

“I know this program means a lot to our people here at the QRL, as I’ve witnessed many examples already, including the highly-skilled work that has gone into facilitating and producing the elite female rugby league education video series.”

The program commenced in February and to date has:

  • appointed a program lead and program co-ordinator in Australia to facilitate the three-year program
  • developed annual work plans and reporting schedules
  • continued with the implementation of the emerging female athlete program for the elite women’s game in PNG
  • engaged with the Optimisation Hub, a specialist provider in international athlete high performance well-being and behavioural risk management
  • engaged with a high performance specialist to develop a plan for the PNGRFL and Hunters.

Program co-ordinators have also facilitated the relocation of the PNG Hunters to Australia to compete in the 2021 Intrust Super Cup season.

This journey started in October 2020, and after 17 days quarantine in PNG and a further 14 days hotel quarantine in Brisbane, the Hunters landed on the Gold Coast on March 7 this year.

The relocation exercise was a dynamic project led by the QRL, PNG Hunters, DFAT and Australian High Commission in PNG, with many moving parts.

Multiple stakeholders have been involved, including the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Queensland Health, Queensland Police, and Queensland Sport and Recreation.

The Hunters have been embraced by the local community, with the City of Gold Coast and Runaway Bay Seagulls Leagues Club providing ongoing support while the team is based out of the Gold Coast Performance Centre.

Another significant program outcome to date has been the appointment of a wellbeing and education manager, a role believed to be the first of its kind in any sport in PNG.

PNG Hunters wellbeing manager Nellie Pabulu. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL
PNG Hunters wellbeing manager Nellie Pabulu. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL

Nellie Pabulu commenced this position in January, and was on hand to support the players and coaches throughout the quarantine period and transition to Australia.

During this challenging time, Pabulu managed and monitored all player and staff welfare via virtual media, through personal and professional development plans.  Nellie has relocated to Australia with the team until the end of Intrust Super Cup season.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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