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The need to help Papua New Guinea reach the next level in competitiveness has received a huge boost with the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos uniting to form a pre-season tri-series between the two clubs and a PNG Select Side.
The tournament, has benefits for all involved. First off, it gives the Papua New Guineans at least two more guaranteed internationals a year, something they have been starved off in recent years due to financial problems. Next it gives both Melbourne and Brisbane the perfect opportunity to collect some of the young and upcoming talent from the region, and add it to their junior ranks.
Both Brisbane and Melbourne have had long associations with different aspects of PNG Rugby League. Wayne Bennett?s brother, Bob Bennett, is the national coach for the Kumuls, whilst all Storm fans will remember Marcus Bai and what he offered to the Victorian based club.
The planned competiton may kick off as early as this year.
PNG in 2003 recorded their first ever victory over an Australian side in 2003, with the PNG Select XIII winning 22 ? 20 in Port Moresby, after only losing 24 ? 22 in Darwin the week before. The amazing part of both those victories was it was against the Junior Kangaroos, who boast a number of players who have played NRL, as well, PNG fielded two weaker sides than they would in a full on test match.
PNG were without the services of players like Stanley Gene, Adrian Lam and Marcus Bai who would all feature in their top side, as well two different PNG outfits played in both games. The game in Darwin featured a number of PNG players who currently play in Queensland and NSW competitions, whilst the Port Moresby game featured players from their local competition.