Rabaul: Papua New Guinea's rugby league mad public are set to be rewarded, with the code's governing body seriously thinking about adding the Pacific nation as a host in the 2017 rugby league World Cup.
While Australia and New Zealand will co-host the event, PNG has emerged as a genuine destination for at least one pool game.
Four pools will make up the 2017 tournament. Australia and New Zealand will be based in front of their home crowds, and negotiations are taking place to have PNG as a third host.
Fiji and Western Australia are also being considered. However, officials are leaning towards PNG, where rugby league is a national sport. .
General manager of league integration and game development, Andrew Hill, said PNG was a realistic destination for at least one pool game.
"Part of our bid to the international federation was to look at how we could assist the broader rugby league strategy in the Pacific," Hill said. "PNG have expressed an interest in hosting a game or games.
"We've begun discussions with the Sports Minister of PNG and over the next couple of months we'll get into more detail.
"We've had a couple of preliminary discussions. It's got past the general chat. It's now about the logistics and the contribution PNG would need to make to hosting a match of that status."
Security, logistics, stadium and broadcast abilities have emerged as major stumbling blocks.
There is little doubt any matches hosted in PNG will be a success, given the reception the Prime Ministers XIII side has received since their arrival on Friday.
Fans crowded the airport while a coaching clinic at a local school attracted about 300 children and at least another 300 spectators on Saturday afternoon.
Those too old for the clinic clung to the fence from the outside, chanting the players names before swarming in on players' gear as it was tossed out of the team's bus by the likes of Greg Bird, Josh Papalii and Josh McGuire.
About 300 people attended a sold-out dinner function with the Kumuls and Kangaroos on Friday night.
"It would be great to promote the broader strategy the NRL has for the Pacific," Hill said. "I don't think any other Pacific nation has been able to host a fixture of that status. It'll be great for the region.
"Teams who have come here have been very complimentary with the way in which everything has worked. At the back of the Pacific Games and the PNG Games being held this year and next year there will be infrastructure built that would be appropriate to host World Cup games." Sydney Moring Herald