Footy tragic Anthony Albanese ready to provide $600m in funding for new NRL franchise in PNG

  • Australian government ready to fund 18th NRL team
  • Albanese and V’landys are currently in discussions
  • The 18th club is expected to join the NRL in 2027

The Australian government and the ARL Commission are in discussions over a $600 million franchise from Papua New Guinea to participate in the competition – the richest expansion project in rugby league history.

Expansion to as many as 18 teams in the NRL has been planned since the Dolphins were given the green light to become the 17th club in 2023.

On Sunday morning, News Corp reported that ARL Commission boss Peter V’landys had begun due diligence to introduce the new PNG side by 2027.

Anthony Albanese did not comment on the specific financial commitment to the expansion project, but expressed strong support.

The federal government is reportedly willing to finance a $600 million package – $60 million a year for at least a decade.

A Papua New Guinea side that will be the NRL’s 18th club in 2027

Mr Albanese has expressed his strong support for the expansion project

Mr Albanese has expressed his strong support for the expansion project

Albanese, a lifelong Souths fan, has confirmed he is in negotiations with V’landys over the franchise.

“I am very much in favor of an 18th NRL team in PNG,” Albanese told News Corp on Saturday.

‘This is a game changer for the relationship with Papua New Guinea.

“We absolutely support the NRL bid and, importantly, Prime Minister (James) Murape in PNG is very much behind an NRL team.

‘This is a country that in a few years (2025) will celebrate its fiftieth year of independence.

“With PNG participating in the NRL, I can’t think of a better way to ensure that continued relationship and engagement between our two countries.”

V’landys, who has spent recent days with Albanians in Washington DC, also confirmed that expansion talks were underway.

“Yes, we are currently in expansion discussions,” V’landys said.

Peter V'landys has reportedly begun due diligence to introduce the new PNG club

Peter V’landys has reportedly begun due diligence to introduce the new PNG club

“We are analyzing the data as we speak and we are working on the strategy for an 18th team in the NRL.

‘We are looking at 2027, but possibly earlier in 2026, if we can build and implement the routes with government support.

“Anthony Albanese is a great man and a great supporter of rugby league.

‘I’m not going to talk about figures, but the Prime Minister is a great supporter of expansion, he is a driving force behind it.

“Now that we are committed to playing games in Vegas, we have begun discussions with the government about expansion.”

It is clear that the substantial investment is not just for the football team, but part of a social, economic and educational blueprint to strengthen the nation.

“I was in PNG in January and you see kids and adults all wearing State of Origin jerseys and NRL club jerseys. The support there is fanatical,” Albanese said.

‘Samoa reached the World Cup final last year. If you develop a pathway for young people to come through, Papua New Guinea is a potential powerhouse in global rugby competition.

‘We have not yet arrived at exact figures. It’s a bit premature. That is a subject of discussion that is currently taking place.’