They say rugby league is like a religion in Papua New Guinea but this week it was the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys who were blessed to have a visit from six of that nation’s finest first responders.

The PNG police officers – in Townsville for training and mentoring as part of the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership – took a break from their busy schedule to watch the Cowboys train at the Townsville Sports Reserve, and to say hello and get some much sought-after photos.

“The Cowboys players are absolute heroes to people in PNG and our six officers aren’t immune to the excitement of being able to meet them,” said the Partnership’s Sgt Mandy Arnold.

“They will remember this visit for the rest of their lives.”

The visit continues strong ties with PNG, with rice producer Trukai a major sponsor of the club.

“We’re proud to have Trukai as part of the Cowboys family – we’re coming into our 10th year in partnership, and I know the players get a kick out of being so welcomed and loved in the country,” said Cowboys General Manager – Commercial Business Jeff Reibel.

“Whenever we visit PNG with the players, it’s a memorable event, especially when we took the NRL Premiership trophy there in November 2015.”

The officers – who work in traffic and prosecutions in the homeland – return to PNG this week after a training and mentoring block and will look to implement some of what they have learned while in Townsville.

The partnership is a joint initiative between the Queensland Police, Australian Federal Police and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.