The South Sydney Rabbitohs have offered six-week train and trial contracts to two Papua New Guinean Rugby League players, Wartovo Puara and Thompson Teteh, off the back of the Head Coach Michael Maguire’s trek of the Kokoda Trail.
Coach Maguire felt such a connection with the people of PNG following his tour of Kokoda that he wants to strengthen the ties between the Rabbitohs and the pacific nation, with this opportunity for two players being the first step in 2015.
Wartovo Puara, 24, is a hooker from the PNG Hunters Queensland Cup side who has also represented the PNG Kumuls against the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII, and was part of the Kumuls’ World Cup train on squad in 2013.
Thompson Teteh, 25, is a centre who also played with the PNG Hunters Queensland Cup side in 2014, and was also part of the Kumuls’ World Cup train on squad in 2013.
Both players played against the Rabbitohs in the 2013 Return to Redfern match at Redfern Oval.
Coach Maguire is looking forward to having these players join the squad on a train and trial basis in 2015.
“Having done the Kokoda Track and having formed a connection with the people I met in PNG, I wanted to explore a further connection between the Rabbitohs and the Papua New Guineans,” Coach Maguire said.
“It really opened my eyes when I was over there about how much these people love their Rugby League and the lengths they will go to support their countrymen in their dreams of playing Rugby League at the top level.
“It’s a real community over there and we were accepted into their communities through our connection with Rugby League and that’s something I want this Club to build on.
“Wartovo and Thompson will be joining us in January to train full time for six weeks and they will have an opportunity to learn from our players, train alongside them and push themselves forward for a place in our full time squad on an ongoing basis.
“It’s exciting for them to have this opportunity and we’re excited to be able to provide them with this opportunity.
“It’s a chance to establish a pathway for Papua New Guinean players to reach NRL level and that’s exciting for everyone.”