PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka said last Friday that it was one of the PNGRFL concepts that started in Lae in 2016.
He also said it was an invitational event.
“Last year due to the Rugby League World Cup preparations we did not host the challenge. This is the second time it is being held,” Tsaka said.
“The tournament will start on Saturday (February 17) and end on Sunday (February 18).”
The two-day tournament will see 16 teams in four pools including premier teams participating in the Digicel Cup and will also be aiming to select a squad for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“There will be 16 teams participating including our premier teams participating in the PNG NRL competition (Digicel Cup) together with four confederate teams,” Tsaka said.
The four confederate teams are from the four confederates of Northern, New Guinea Islands, Highlands and Southern) given selections carried out during the respective confederate championships.
Tsaka said the tournament brings the cream of rugby league talent together to take part in selecting a squad for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“The team competition has age restrictions (for U-23 players only) because the competition will be used as a selection trial for a team to the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
He added that during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games there was an age limit (U-18) and that was when PNG won a gold medal. This year the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has a restriction of U-23 players.
“It is an important occasion for us because this is the first officially sanctioned competition on our PNG Rugby Football League 2018 calendar,” Tsaka said.
“It also coincides with a week of coaching and refereeing accreditation run by Toksy Nema and development officials in Goroka.”
The coaches and referees course will be held next Friday (February 16) and will also see the arrival of teams to participate at the tournament. The announcement of the squad and team officials will be held on Sunday after the finals.
“Having four confederate teams and we have an invitation of a Madang team will also provide the opportunity not only for selection towards the Commonwealth Games but opportunity for rural based players to showcase their talents for Digicel Cup teams scouts,” Tsaka said.
“It promotes that player pathway where we bring the elite of our rugby league talent with our junior talent programs so it will be a great weekend of football.”
Teams participating include (pool A) Mendi Muruks, NCDC Vipers, NGI Confederate, Goroka Lahanis (pool B) Enga Mioks, Hagen, Northern Confederate, Gulf Isou (pool C) Chimbu Warriors, Madang, Southern Confederate, Hela Wigmen (pool D) Rabaul Gurias, Lae Tigers, Highlands Confederate, Waghi Tumbe. Post Courier