FORMER Kumul five-eighth and British rugby league cult figure Stanley Gene has been appointed as Adrian Lam’s successor.
In a media conference in Port Moresby on Wednesday, PNGRFL interim committee chairman John Numapo and committee member Gary Juffa announced Gene’s ascension to the top job saying Lam had relinquished the Kumul coaching role primarily because of his commitment to NRL club St George Illawara, who are into the second week of the finals. Lam is assistant to Dragon’s head coach Wayne Bennett.
Numapo said Lam had contacted him earlier in the week to inform him of his decision, and that the PNGRFL interim committee had accepted Lam’s resignation.
Numapo then took the opportunity to announce Gene’s appointment and assured the country’s rugby league community that what had transpired would not hinder the Kumuls preparation.
“I want to assure fans and the rugby league fraternity that the Kumuls will play in the Four Nations next month. This (Lam’s resignation) will not affect preparations and I am confident we can come up with the best side,” Numapo said.
He added that Sports Minister Philemon Embel had been briefed on the situation and was satisfied with the contingency plans.
Numapo claimed Lam’s reasons were entirely because of his contractual obligations with St George and nothing to do with the recent leadership turmoil in the PNGRFL.
Numapo added that Gurias coach Michael Marum would retain his position as Kumul assistant coach, a job he held under the two previous coaches – Lam and Bob Bennett –stretching back to 2006.
Gene, 37, said being Kumul coach was “a dream come true” and was optimistic about the Kumuls saying he would take up where his predecessor left off.
“I’ve spent 20 years playing league and this has been one of my dreams to coach my country. It couldn’t have come any sooner,” a delighted Gene said.
“I want PNG to play with more structure and to be more disciplined in their approach and with my experience and the help of others we can do that.”
The PNG Prime Minister’s XIII, which will include several overseas-based players, will be announced on Monday after Sunday’s bemobile versus zone side game. The PM’s XIII will then play their Australian counterparts on Sept 26.