By KEVIN PAMBA
PAPUA New Guinea rugby league has to align itself with and learn from the world class game in Australia and get its “front office” in order if it is to be competitive in the international arena.
That is the post-Four Nations assessment from Tas Baiteri, the development manager for the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), the international governing body of the sport.
Speaking on Radio Australia earlier this week, Baiteri said the New Zealanders have aligned themselves with the Australian game and were reaping the rewards with a string of successes at the 2010 Four Nations, 2008 World Cup and 2005 Tri Nations.
Baiteri said PNG could not expect to compete well on the international stage with locally based players who do not have access to the resources and facilities that are enjoyed by their highly paid professional Australian and New Zealand counterparts.
“People (players) here (in Australia) are full-time, they’ve got dieticians, they’ve got gymnasiums, they do have full-time training, they train during the day, you have the afternoons or nights off.
“And I think when you compare the cultures, I mean Papua New Guinea wouldn’t have a gymnasium, they don’t have dieticians, people have got to work for a living, they don’t live off the game.
“So we’re really comparing two systems that really aren’t compatible, and unless you’re in the Australian system and you saw the way the Kiwis performed on the weekend, I mean that’s what people need to align themselves to if they’re going to be successful in this sport,” Baiteri told Radio Australia.
He said the PNG Kumuls would have done relatively better at the Four Nations had they fielded more Australian-based players who are exposed to the top class Australian conditions.
Baiteri said: “When we look at some of the players that were unable to play in that Kumuls side, you take out players like Tu’u Maori from Newtown Jets and Roosters, Keith Peters, David Meade from the Titans.
“I mean they didn’t have all their better players available due to injury, and I’m sure that they could have done better obviously.”
Baiteri said there is lot of “passion” for the game in PNG, but passion alone would not make the Kumuls competitive or develop the game here.
He said something had to be done to harness the passion and enthusiasm for the game to be strong in PNG.
“There is a lot of passion and it’s a wonderful place to be.
“I go regularly there every year, I’ve been six times with the Prime Minister’s 13, and the amount of enthusiasm, passion and the attitude of the spectators is just phenomenal.”