PAPUA New Guinea is a rugby league-mad country with fanatical supporters. The sport was first played there in the 1930s, but it was after the Second World War in 1949 it took off, being re-introduced by Australian soldiers.

PNG eventually became members of the Rugby League International Federation and their first Test match was in 1975 when Great Britain, en route to Australia and New Zealand, called in and won 40-12.

A record crowd of over 20,000 witnessed the Grand Final in 2010 where Coroka Lahanis beat Mendi Muruks 21-10.

Wigan Warriors head coach Adrian Lam skippered the side on several occasions, while former Hull Kingston Rovers star Stanley Gene played and later coached, and Menzie Yere (Sheffield Eagles) played several games. Star man at the moment is skipper David Mead, of Catalans Dragons.

In 2000, a television audience of over two million got up in the middle of the night to see the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales and over 50,000 converged on Port Moresby airport to welcome them home.

A regular crowd of over 10,000 turn up for the annual game with the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII, with players selected from the 40 different leagues.

For several years, big games in Port Moresby resulted in the gates being locked and, to make sure they would not miss out, hundreds would scale roof tops and trees as many had walked for hours to the stadium. It was not unusual for spectators to have run in battles with riot police.

In 2017, PNG was awarded home games in the World Cup, topping their group with victories over Ireland (14-6), Wales (50-6) and USA (64-0) before falling to England 36-6 in the quarter-finals.