Their travel was delayed several weeks after a member of the team tested positive for COVID-19.
The player who tested positive is still in Port Moresby under quarantine and until such time when he is deemed fit to travel, he will join the team, along with others including Stanton Albert, who has requested to remain in PNG to sort our family issues.
Today, Prime Minister James Marape and the PNGNRL body bid the rest of the team farewell at Jackson’s, in a strict and brief ceremony, as the team prepares to live and play in Australia for the duration of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup 2021 season.
“This is a ground breaking event for us as a country to relocate our national franchise into Queensland Australia. It’s the start of a journey that can become something big and better for us going into the future as we move the concept of PNG fielding a NRL team,” the Prime Minister said.
The farewell also came with news that the PNG Hunters will now be an entity of its own, managed by its own board; all ties with the PNGNRL were cut in an agreement signing following the send-off.
The 30-men squad and team officials boarded at 2pm for Brisbane and will be under a strict 14-day quarantine when they arrive at the Quest Hotel in South Brisbane.
“So after (quarantine), they have about 10 days to prepare before their first game on March 20th at Runaway Bay, against Wynnum Manly Seagulls,” said PNGNRL CEO Stanley Hondina.
He said, “We need to build and establish public confidence and stakeholder confidence that the Hunters has a board and management taking care of it. We can focus on other areas including the Kumuls and Orchids, and local leagues. It’s a step in the right direction.”
The PNGNRL is working towards fielding an NRL team in 2025.
“We need to build credibility and more professionalism if we are to achieve this,” Hondina said.
The Deed of Assignment was signed between the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea, and the PNG Hunters Board, to allow the PNG Hunters to commercialise.