Papua New Guinea is celebrating being awarded co-hosting rights for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with Australia and New Zealand.

In a first for the rugby league-mad nation, PNG will host three pool matches in Port Moresby after the country’s government poured $1.4 billion into establishing state-of-the-art facilities, including three brand new stadiums.

“Our aim is to make this Rugby League World Cup the most accessible and fan-friendly ever,” said RLWC local organising committee chief Michael Brown in Sydney on Thursday.

“We not only want to see traditional rugby league fans come out to support their national team, we aim to engage with the local communities of all participating teams to deliver an event that celebrates the diversity of cultures and countries playing the greatest game of all.”