NRL scores double try

THERE WAS MOMENTOUS RUGBY LEAGUE news over the weekend, with PNG Hunter Kato Ottio going Raiding, and a partnership announced between the nation’s National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Digicel Play. For fans of the game, the latter brings three free-to-air NRL matches to their screens per week in 2016.
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The matches will be screened on both Digicel Play and NBC during the coming season, and the duo will also show the ANZAC Test and the State of Origin matches between New South Wales and Queensland. PNG Hunters matches and the Digicel Cup will remain on Digicel Play.

Acting Director of NBC, Mr Kora Nou, expressed his view that the potential availability of NRL in every home in PNG with a TV meant the partnership was a "win-win arrangement" for both broadcasters.

"We recognise Rugby League is the national sport of PNG, and the NRL is the best club competition in the world. Through this partnership, there will be 100 percent NRL coverage across the country. Working together with Digicel means the people of PNG can enjoy the NRL on whichever platform they choose.

"As the State Broadcaster, one of our core functions is to provide real entertainment; when it comes to Rugby League, the NRL is as compelling as it gets," Mr Nou said.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Digicel Play, Mr Maurice McCarthy, agreed that NRL has a passionate following in PNG, and said "we want to work closely with PNG's state broadcaster to allow both our viewers and NBC viewers the chance to see the action at home.

As the true home of Rugby League in PNG, Digicel Play offers an unbeatable service for our viewers. With Digicel Play and NBC we are reaching the whole of PNG."

Both Mr McCarthy and Mr Nou were clear in their view that premium service for PNG viewers was foremost in establishing the partnership.

"PNG is going to experience NRL like they have never experienced it before and our partnership with NBC means key games will be free-to-air on NBC, as well as broadcast in high definition on Digicel Play," Mr McCarthy said.

"We are extremely happy that through this partnership we can now broadcast NRL content to our viewers," Mr Nou added. 

The announcement is another step forward in Digicel's delivery of rugby league to PNG's faithful followers.

They announced last year that from 2016 they would not only broadcast the Digicel Cup and the QRL Intrust Super Cup, but also the NRL Premiership League, the State of Origin Series, the All Stars Match, the ANZAC test and all under 20s games.

PNG has also scored a try with young Hunters star Kato Ottio signed to the Canberra Raiders for the next two seasons, the club announced last Friday afternoon.

Arriving at the club at the commencement of this season on a train and trial contract, Ottio's stand-out performances during training, at the Auckland Nines and against the Knights in a pre-season match gave him the edge needed to secure a contract.

Raiders Football Manager John Bonasera said the entire coaching staff had been impressed with Ottio's work ethic and attitude since his arrival in the ACT.

"We're really excited for Kato. From the minute he arrived he put in a determined effort and met all of our expectations and we believe he has great potential for growth," said Bonasera.

"Over the past few seasons the club has worked on establishing a strong culture and Kato displays a strong set of values and a willingness to work hard in order to succeed. We look forward to seeing Kato continue this progression over the next two years."

Ottio said how excited he was to be a part of the Raiders squad, and expressed his desire to develop as a player.

"I'm very grateful that the Raiders have given me the chance to train with them and to have a two year contract is a dream come true for me," he said.

"The pre-season has shown me how hard you have to work if you want to make it in the NRL and I will make sure I keep training hard so one day I can live my dream of playing in the NRL."

A conversion by PNG, it seems.

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