PNG Rugby League
PNG Rugby League

Date: 8/10/13

I have decided to issue a statement to clear up some ill informed and derogatory statements made recently in the PNG Media.

The question has been asked after the PM13 match “What about Team Kumul’s performance? What went wrong?”

Nothing…it was a reality check. It was a shot in the arm for common sense. We were up against a red-­‐hot Australian side with plenty to prove. We don’t have that same sort of competition between players or pool of players playing at the level week in week out. It truly showed where we really sit on the ladder of World Rugby League. Rugby League Internationally particularly the NRL has advanced significantly in the last 10 years, whereas we cannot say the same about PNG rugby League. The gap has widened significantly.

I know, YOU know it and WE all know it.

Cynics may disapprove but realists will understand. We all have opinions whether they are right or wrong and everyone has the right to one. I say to the people of Papua New Guinea and more importantly the followers of our great game to be patient, allow us to build our program then judge us! This is a five-­‐year plan and I can make this promise, the game of Rugby League in PNG will wear a totally different face. I totally believe, given the right structures, programs and people, we can achieve what every supporter wants…to be competitive against the best. We want to ensure there’s a Rugby League pathway for all young kids to follow and fulfill their dreams of representing their country and be involved in various ways. This takes time, dedication and perseverance.

Firstly let’s look at the game in general in PNG, which I believe I can as an outsider looking in. I have a great passion for our game -­‐ I love it just like you. Rugby League in this country has been in disarray for a long time and if it weren’t for the Digicel Cup it would be near buried in its grave. Because of these troubles and constant in fighting the game has stagnated and we have no-­‐where near the number of players playing at the Highest level of competition available in the world unlike other pacific nations. The game and administrators in PNG has let down the talented youth and not provided a pathway for them to excel.

In my opinion based on my association with PNG over the past 20 years, the standard of the game has decreased badly and certainly the quality of our National players has declined. Need an example? Well, at the last World Cup selection in 2008 there was a majority of overseas players and the rest from the National competition however it has reversed in 2013. What does this tell you? Simply, national players aren’t being recruited anymore. NRL clubs will rarely look at PNG now and unless we get players up to a required standard and provide a pathway this will continue and the talent and rugby league potential this country has will be wasted.

Don’t get me wrong, the talent is there but it takes a lot more than talent to be successful! Honestly, last Sunday is an example of our past. If you’re honest you will agree.

We need our players playing at the highest-­‐level possible, week in, week out. I understand PNG has been granted a licence to compete in the Intrust Super Cup (QLD Cup) next year. What an opportunity! Not only will our players be able to play at the highest level possible week in week out to better themselves but now the talented youth coming through the National Schoolboys program have a pathway. PNG players now wont have to leave their country at 8 or 9 years of age. They will be on a stage in front of NRL clubs, in front of talents scouts through an entire season. This will compliment the Team Kumul and international program and is a golden opportunity. I implore the PNGRFL board to grab this opportunity while they can before it slips away forever.

The game in general has been on its knees. It will take enormous effort from all rugby league administrators to stand it back on its own two feet. Not just a few but all. The game of Rugby League needs people to put their differences aside and work together for the benefit of the game. The Government has rightly shown strong direction and stepped in and facilitated a restructure of the PNGRFL. In the world of Rugby League this has only happened in PNG and other nations are jealous of this support. What an enormous opportunity we have. We can’t blow it! We shouldn’t blow it! The PNGRFL is under new governance and new leadership but it has only just begun, after years in the wilderness it will take time and we cannot expect miracles overnight…patience please!

Our players need to be nurtured, educated and trained. They need more than just turning up to a game and be expected to beat the best in the world. We have started that process but again it will take time. I feel so sorry for the unrealistic expectations put on the  players. It isn’t fair. From a young age, they need to be developed, taught and value if they work hard goals can be realised. As Adults, Parents, Leaders, Teachers, Supporters we need to have faith in our endeavors; we need to instill belief; we need to trust that our processes will take us to our destination – not tear them down at every opportunity. We need people who want to help not hinder. We need people with great belief and work ethic to make it happen. We need to grow together, realising we are all on the same team. One win doesn’t make a season nor does one loss make it a failure!

In this year’s World Cup our current talented playing group will do us proud. They are the right men to carry the hope and aspirations into the future. They are learning and developing well, but they need time and perseverance to do so. They are becoming fitter, stronger and smarter rugby league players who will be able to mix it with the big boys.

They will become great warriors, our great pioneers for our kids to reap the success of their toil in the future. When these players realise how good they can be, watch out the rest of the world.

In my opinion and remember everyone has one, the people in place at the moment are the right people. No one is ever irreplaceable but that’s why we will continue to put the effort in to succeed. All efforts have been put into preparing the team as best we can for this year’s World Cup. Next year the focus will be on developing and integrating national junior and senior programs with the goal the next World Cup in four years time.

The Team Kumul staff has a fantastic blend of experience, national influence and passion. There is a commitment to the cause regardless of the detractors and the Head Coach is the right man. I believe I am the right man to counsel this great country’s passion of Rugby League. Let’s all get serious, we will argue, debate and disagree but if deep down we do it for all the right reasons other than self-­‐interest, I can guarantee we will all bask in the success that ill follow.

Proverbs 11: 24-­‐25 says “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Yours Passionately

Mal Meninga.