Exposure and development the key

Normal, Sports

The National, Monday July 15th, 2013

 “We have to just get on with it. We can’t dwell on ‘what ifs’.” 

PNG Rugby Football Union general manager Simon Kerr was pragmatic yesterday, 24 hours after the Pukpuk’ 39-31 loss to the Cook Islands in Saturday’s deciding Federation of Oceania Unions (FORU) Cup match at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.

The loss means PNG will have to wait another four years (2017) before the next cycle of Rugby World Cup qualifiers but the Monier-sponsored national side will still see some international competition in 2015 when the next FORU Cup rolls around. 

But this is not enough according to Kerr, who said the Pukpuks would need regular exposure to international matches as well as for the unions outside the main centres of Port Moresby and Lae to be developed. 

“We’ve got to continue to develop our players and competitions but these things won’t happen quickly. It’ll take time. We’re looking at years, we’re a work in progress,” Kerr said. 

“The Pukpuks are a young and inexperienced side and they lost to a side that played good strong rugby throughout the FORU Cup.” 

He said for the Pukpuks to be competitive, the players and the team would need more games against good quality opposition and this was something the PNGRFU was looking to address. 

“We’re looking at having matches in Australia and even in Asia because the team needs more matches at the international level in order to get better. 

“The players also need to experience rugby of a high standard and they can only get that if PNG is playing international matches or if players are playing for clubs in Australia.” 

Kerr added that the cost of getting the national side to play overseas would be borne by the PNGRFU as they would not be subsidised by the International Rugby Board (IRB) because games other than the FORU and WC qualifiers were outside their programme and schedules. 

“Unlike the FORU Cup and World Cup qualifiers, the IRB helps to off-set the costs with subsidies, but for us to get the team out to play in other international matches in Australia or elsewhere we have to fund it ourselves.”

On the lack of playing depth in some positions especially in the forwards, Kerr said the growth of the game in the provinces would provide the talent in the long run but other measures would need to be taken in the short term.

“We need to identify and develop players as well as source from outside,” Kerr said. “Our boys never gave in and kept on trying up to the last minute which was great.