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'It would be great to see the Jets in the big league': Albo throws weight behind Newtown in the NRL

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Editor
15th February, 2024
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The race for NRL expansion spots continues apace, and even the Prime Minister has weighed in with his view.

Anthony Albanese might be a South Sydney diehard, and his government is known to favour a Papua New Guinea-based bid for geopolitical reasons, but, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he has thrown his support behind the Newtown Jets to return to first grade.

He was discussing a potential bid from the North Sydney Bears to take a place – thought to be in conjunction with a bid from Western Australia – but added that the Jets, who were kicked out way back in 1983, should be in the reckoning.

“That would be a wonderful thing to see the Bears in the NRL again,” Albanese said.

“My first preference is to see a team based in Papua New Guinea.

“It’s a matter for the NRL, of course, but having an expansion team in the Pacific would be very positive for Australia’s national interests.

“As the league goes to possibly 20 teams over time, there is a potential for teams associated with the Bears to come back.

“I would also like to see Newtown come back. It would be great to see the Jets in the big league again…they (Newtown and North Sydney) are both wonderful brands.”

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It is perhaps not surprising, as the Jets’ Henson Park ground is in the heart of his Grayndler constituency and prior to becoming PM, Albo was a regular punter.

His preference remains for a PNG team, with the government potentially providing funds to help counteract the influence of China in the region.

“This is a game changer for the relationship with Papua New Guinea,” said Albanese last year around the game between the PM’s XIII and a PNG Kumuls side.

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

“This is a country that will celebrate its 50th year of independence in a couple of years (in 2025).

“Having PNG participate in the NRL, I can’t think of any better way to get that ongoing relationship and engagement between our two countries.”

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