The Papua New Guinea Hunters have formed an alliance with new NRL outfit the Dolphins, providing a pathway for their young players.
With the Dolphins joining the NRL in 2023, four PNG players will be invited to their pre-season training, with two staying on for the full year to push for NRL selection.
While the Queensland Cup club is based in Port Moresby, the Hunters have relocated to the Gold Coast for the past two years due to COVID-19.
PNG league boss Scott Barker said the partnership was a huge opportunity to develop Papua New Guineans.
"We know there is a wealth of rugby league talent and potential within Papua New Guinea, and this is the next step in our mission to introduce that talent into the NRL," Barker said.
A number of NRL stars have PNG roots and have represented the Kumuls in recent seasons including Storm pair Justin Olam and Xavier Coates, Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston, Roosters halfback Lachlan Lam and Broncos back David Mead.
Dolphins' chief executive Terry Reader said his club, including coach Wayne Bennett, wanted the club to play a major role in developing them.
"Through previous visits to the country, we understand how passionate the entire nation of Papua New Guinea is about the game of rugby league," Reader said.
"Our head coach Wayne Bennett has long admired the unique talent players from Papua New Guinea possess and the way they approach the game.
"We are very pleased to offer a pathway for player development that will open up opportunities for players from that country to succeed at the highest level of the game."
Australian Associated Press
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