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The National Rugby League (NRL) and Digicel have come together in a three year partnership with the aim to use rugby league as a tool to educate and empower countries in the Pacific.

The announcement of the partnership was made on Tuesday at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

The two player ambassadors of the partnership are captain of the Australian Jilaroos, Ruan Sims and PNG’s very own Stanton Albert who is playing for the Penrith Panthers in the New South Wales Cup.

The partnership has three priorities:

  • NRL Pacific Outreach Program: educating youth and women across the Pacific with a focus on achieving real social change.
  • Sponsorship of the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII tours
  • Introduction of a ‘Pacific Warrior’ program to uncover rugby league talent in the Pacific

More than 200, 000 students and 1,000 teachers across a 100 schools in PNG, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will benefit from this partnership with the NRL implementing tailored educational resources and health and awareness programs.

CEO of Digicel PNG, Maurice McCarthy said community sponsorships were at the heart of Digicel and the company was delighted to be in this partnership with the NRL.

“Rugby league is arguably the most loved sport in the Pacific and we are proud to partner with the NRL to ensure more communities have greater opportunities to develop the skills required to play sport, and learn positive values including teamwork and mateship,” said McCarthy.

Chief Commercial Officer of the NRL, Michael Brown added that the partnership would see rugby league continue to grow from strength to strength in the Pacific.

He said the NRL was looking forward to the success of this partnership that will not only help uncover more rugby league talent in the Pacific but also bring a greater level of education particularly to youth and women.

“I watched the Pacific Test and I can say it was the toughest and most skilful rugby league I’ve seen played this year,” said Brown.