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NRL News: 'I thought I was going to die' - Aussie journos in scary US knife incident, PNG gets green light to host games

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29th February, 2024

Members of the Australian media in the US feared for their lives after two separate incidents, including a late-night knife encounter at Las Angeles.

There are hundreds of Australians in the States with four NRL teams, officials and media crews to cover the preparations for this weekend’s historic double-header in Las Vegas.

A TV news presenter was just about to do a live cross back to Australia after midnight in Santa Monica due to the time zone differences when a man brandished a knife at the reporter.

The intruder claimed the reporter had damaged his car but when the Aussie journalist denied that was the case, he fled the scene immediately.

“It was the first time in my life that I thought I was going to die,” the NRL journalist told NewsCorp about the terrifying incident.

“The honest feeling was we were either going to be robbed or killed.

“I was genuinely worried about not surviving.”


Another crew was filming at a similar time when three cars cornered them from 30 metres away after they had set up on private property away from where the Broncos were staying after being told they were not allowed to do their live cross on the hotel premises.

As the scary situation unfolded with the cars leaving their engine running, the journalist started making phone calls to his employer and it is believed the would-be attackers eventually backed off because they thought the police had been notified.

“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” the reporter said.

A true professional, he managed to still film the report even though the cars were still visible in the distance with their headlights on.

An Elvis impersonator wields a Steeden with Las Vegas showgirls. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for NRL)

An Elvis impersonator wields a Steeden with Las Vegas showgirls. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for NRL)

Ikin says it’s safe to play in PNG

The Queensland Rugby League (QRL) has announced it will host games of its statewide competition in Papua New Guinea in a huge boost to the code and the NRL’s expansion plans.


The killing of at least 26 men in civil unrest in the PNG highlands in mid-February led to the QRL holding meetings with key stakeholders over whether the PNG Hunters would host Wynnum-Manly in Port Moresby on March 9 in the opening round of Queensland’s Hostplus Cup.

“We are hosting games there because it is safe enough to do it,” QRL CEO Ben Ikin told AAP on Thursday.

“The PNG Hunters have their home games like every other club and round one happens to be one off those.

“Wynnum will travel up for round one of the Hostplus Cup. I am on the plane and going as well.”

QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher told AAP recently that “player safety” was paramount, given that rioting and looting rocked Port Moresby and the nation’s second-largest city Lae in January, when at least 15 people were killed.

Ikin said the Australian High Commission had since given the same advice that they had given to all of their own staff.

Lachlan Lam of Papua New Guinea celebrates with team mates after scoring

(Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images for RLWC)


“And that is that it is safe to travel and move around Port Moresby,” he said.

“In the background the QRL has partnered with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and the Australian government to work with the PNG RFL and the PNG Hunters to develop rugby league in PNG.

“We understand that with some of the civil unrest that is happening hundreds of kilometres away (from Port Moresby) in the same country that families might be concerned.

“So it was important for us to work with our clubs and stakeholders to communicate what is actually happening up there in real terms, and talk to the appropriate people on the ground to ensure when we do go there  everything is in place.”

Players not required for NRL duty often turn out for Queensland Cup sides.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has spoken often about the Australian government’s desire to support the institution of an NRL side in PNG in an expanded competition.

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The NRL is also keen to bring in a PNG side with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys stating last week that the aim would be to base the side in PNG rather than in the previously mooted Cairns.

The QRL has been the prime mover in laying the groundwork for such a move, with their long-standing partnership with the PNG Hunters in the statewide competition.

While NRL expansion will not be a QRL decision, the fact remains that the organisation has put the building blocks in place for that to occur.

“That would cap years and years of hard work from a lot of people,” Ikin said.

“We support building the underpinning pathway and capability required to eventually get to that point.”