Visit from PNGRL Chairman sparks potential partnership with Raiders

A visit to Canberra from the Chairman of Papua New Guinea Rugby League, Sandis Tsaka, has sparked a potential relationship with the Canberra Raiders.

Tsaka was in the Nation’s Capital to meet with the Managing Director of Sea Box International, Shaun Moore. Sea Box International is a Canberra based company who design, engineer and produce products built in both Australia and China.

Moore is currently in discussion with Tsaka and Gus Davey, who heads up a PNG based building and engineering company, to provide infrastructure to upgrade some of the existing rugby league facilities within the country.

Leading up to the meeting, Moore contacted the Raiders to ask if Tsaka would be able to pay a visit to the club headquarters, something CEO Don Furner was more than happy to accommodate.

Furner arranged for the visit to be scheduled whilst the NRL side was training and personally took the group on a tour of Raiders Headquarters in addition to also personally meeting Head Coach Ricky Stuart.

“This is my first tour of an NRL club’s facilities and it’s been very impressive,” Tsaka said. “It’s not every day that you get the CEO of an NRL club to give you a guided tour as well as having the Head Coach, Ricky Stuart, making himself available.

“To be able to see the boys in action as well as the facilities allow us to take a few tips back home so that we can improve the game back home.

“As you are aware this is the first time that PNG are fielding a team in the Intrust Super Cup, the PNG Hunters. Although we don’t have a set-up as quite as impressive as this, walking through Raiders HQ today has given me a few ideas in regards to how a professional NRL club functions with its facilities. It’s been really beneficial.”

Given the fact that Raiders great Mal Meninga is the current PNG National Coach and Coaching Director of the High Performance program for Rugby League in PNG, along with the discussions held with Furner, Tsaka hopes to get a partnership going with the Raiders.

“To get a partnership going with the Canberra Raiders would be great for both parties,” Tsaka enthused. “The junior development pathways here are really good and hopefully we can get a couple of our juniors down here and get a bit of a relationship going.

“Rugby League is the national sport back home. We have a country of seven million people and there is over 15,000 kids playing rugby league on any one weekend.

“There are so many kids that have the potential and desire to break into the NRL but unfortunately we only have around three or four who have come through. The problem back home is that we don’t get the NRL scouts coming out there so the opportunities for us to expose our players to play at this elite level haven’t really been there.

“The introduction of the Hunters has helped with that but to develop a partnership with the Raiders will be great for us back home.

“Mal coming on board has done wonders for the game given his integrity and what he has accomplished on and off the field. He motivates all of us involved in the game to put in that extra effort.

“We hope that Mal being involved with our national team will open the door for us to have a strong relationship that will bring value to both the Raiders and to PNG Rugby League.”

Furner has welcomed the idea of supporting PNG juniors and is supportive of the notion of having a number of elite PNG juniors come down to participate in the club’s renowned development pathways.

“Rugby League is the national sport in PNG and we’d be happy to support the growth and development of the code there,” Furner said. “We have previously donated jerseys and boots but to be able to host a few of their elite juniors in our development camps is something that we will definitely look into especially with Mal’s involvement in the country’s high performance program.

“As is evidenced through the amount of juniors we develop into first graders, our development systems are first class so to be able to develop some elite juniors from PNG will only be beneficial to both parties.”