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The PNG National Rugby League Competition (PNG NRLC), today confirmed the 12 teams that will be participating in the 2023 season of its flagship competition, also known as the Digicel Cup.

The highly anticipated announcement comes after months of deliberation with key stakeholders and the Board of the PNG NRLC.

PNG NRLC Board Director, Lorna McPherson confirmed the participation of 11 franchises from the 2022 competition, noting the exclusion of Jiwaka franchise, Waghi Tumbe, and announcing the inclusion of the new franchise, the Sepik Pride.

The 2023 participating teams are:

  • Kroton Hela Wigmen
  • Agmark Rabaul Gurias
  • PRK Mendi Muruks
  • Lae Snax Tigers
  • PRK Gulf Isou
  • Central Dabaris
  • Kimbe Cutters
  • Bintagor Goroka Lahanis
  • EPG Enga Mioks
  • Wamp Nga Mt. Hagen Eagles
  • NCDC-Moni Plus Vipers
  • EMK Sepik Pride (New)

McPherson in welcoming the new franchise said, “The PNG NRLC is determined to see the game grow. It was not an easy decision to make but a necessary one. Whilst we want to see the game grow it is important that the standards we have worked hard to have in place over almost a decade is not compromised.”

“With this inclusion of another team we are excited to see a new brand of rugby league that will be played and brought in by the Sepik Pride. This brings to two teams now from the Northern confederate, after the Lae Snax Tigers,” she added.

The inclusion of the Sepik Pride, came after Waghi Tumbe’s participation in the competition was terminated, leaving an available slot in the 12-team roster.

The Jiwaka Franchise’s termination of participation was the result of failure to participate in round 17 of the 2022 season on August 28th, with no notice, that was to be played in Lae.

“The necessary processes were undertaken in providing an opportunity to the Tumbe to show cause and appeal the PNG NRLC’s decision to terminate their license to participate. It is unfortunate that we see a team take leave from the competition, but the PNG NRLC has not seen a forfeiture of this nature and this was a serious breach of our Participation Agreement, to which all teams consent to when signing,” PNGRFL CEO Mr Stanley Hondina said.

Both the Waghi Tumbe and the Sepik Pride were appropriately notified of this NRLC Board decision.