By ISAAC LIRI
FORMER Kumul Marcus Bai has challenged Papua New Guinea to equal the country’s best World Cup performance by making the quarterfinals at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Bai, who is a member of the coaching staff, said that as a member of the Kumuls team that made it to the quarterfinals at the 2000 World Cup where they lost to Wales 22-8, he was confident the side had the talent and experience to win their pool games and advance to the next stage of the tournament.
“Going back to 2000 when we made the quarterfinals, we were successful. Now we’ve got a chance here and these boys have a challenge to beat that record,” Bai said.
“They should be able to win games in front of their crowd; that is the challenge we’ve given them. If we could make quarterfinals in 2000 in England, they should be able to do the same,” Bai said.
Bai applauded the Hunters programme and the PNGRFL for raising the game’s standard over the last five years.
“We’ve seen a lot of good players come up like Ase Boas in the Hunters, Justin Olam and Kato Ottio in the NRL system and that is a result of our development programme and we’ll see the benefits at the next World Cup.
“This group are probably more talented than us five or 10 years ago but it’s up to them to show it,” the former Melbourne Storm premiership winner said.
Bai said he was honoured to be part of the coaching staff alongside other former Kumuls John Wilshire, Stanley Tepend, David Westley and coach Marum.
“The game has changed and for us coming on board to help out is good; we’ve been there and we know how it’s done,” Bai said.
Wilshire agreed that the sport had changed significantly since their time.
“There’s a lot of talk about high performance so the players today have a lot of resources in sports science compared to what we had when we were playing,” Wilshire said.
“That means the product is better as preparations are different. It all comes down to the advances in sports science,” the former St George Illawarra Dragons player said.
With the squad returning to camp yesterday, Bai was pleased to see players getting straight into training mode.
“Our boys are training hard and that’s what rugby league players do,” Bai said.
“They’re switch on now and getting ready for the World Cup.”
By ISAAC LIRI