- Violence could affect Queensland football competition
- The team’s home games could now be rescheduled
- At least 26 men were killed in the recent massacre
The Queensland Rugby League (QRL) aims to make a decision before the end of the week on whether it will play matches in the early rounds of its state competition in Papua New Guinea after the deaths of at least 26 men in civil unrest.
The PNG Hunters will host Wynnum-Manly in Port Moresby on March 9 in the first round of the Hostplus Queensland Cup.
QRL president Bruce Hatcher said the safety of AAP players would be “paramount” in the decision-making process.
Players not required for the NRL often feature in Cup teams.
The outbreak of tribal violence in PNG’s remote highlands on Monday prompted Prime Minister James Marape to grant arrest powers to the military.
QRL deciding whether to play in Papua New Guinea following recent violence
Dozens of men were recently shot dead in an ambush in Enga province, in the remote mountainous region of Papua New Guinea (authorities remove some of the bodies, pictured)
The unrest followed chaotic scenes of rioting and looting in the capital, Port Moresby, and in Lae, the country’s second-largest city, in January, when at least 15 people were killed.
The QRL is following the outcome of the opposition party’s no-confidence motion in Marape, which is due to be considered by the powerful private enterprises committee on Wednesday, a source said.
A QRL meeting with relevant stakeholders is planned for Friday.
Hatcher said QRL would continue to liaise with the PNG Hunters about the developing situation.
“We are working quite hard with all our connections on the ground in PNG, because player safety is absolutely paramount,” Hatcher told AAP.
‘We also receive independent advice.
‘We have to be absolutely responsible and ensure that any danger is minimal. We won’t go there if the risk is higher than normal.
‘Rugby league is their national sport, but the reality is that playing there carries risks.
The PNG Hunters (pictured) will host Wynnum-Manly in Port Moresby on March 9.
QRL president Bruce Hatcher said player safety would be “paramount” as the league makes its decision on whether games will be held in PNG early in the season.
“We will make a final decision later this week based on the advice we receive from the security organizations we deal with there and the Australian High Commission.”
The NRL has plans to add a PNG team to an expanded competition.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said at the North Queensland Cowboys’ season launch last week that the organization was “starting to lean towards its base in Papua New Guinea” after It had previously been discussed that the team could be based in Cairns.
For that to happen, it would be vital to guarantee the safety of the players.
The Hunters played Queensland Cup matches in Australia for the best part of two seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hatcher said parallels can be drawn with the current situation and a scenario that played out in late 2022.
“When there was an election and COVID was widespread, the PNG Hunters requested to play their last five games in Port Moresby,” Hatcher said.
‘As elections had not been declared, we had to wait, as there was quite a bit of civil unrest.
‘We ended up canceling four games and then we canceled the fifth against Mackay.
‘I was in the QRL office on Wednesday morning and got a call from the Prime Minister (PNG) who said he wanted the game to go ahead.
‘Promised to ensure high security protection for all players and officials. We ended up taking the teams there the morning of the game.