SYDNEY: Just how worried should we be about Papua New Guinea’s heavy loss to Australia in the Four Nations on Sunday afternoon?
Should we be alert, but not alarmed? Or should we be reaching for the big red panic button and mashing our palms down on that thing like it was a game of whack-a-mole?
Well, Papua New Guinea rugby league officials have stated their desire to have a team in the NRL by 2014. That target may seem a tad ambitious.
In fact, it is almost impossible. But that is not to say it will not happen in the future.
The Papua New Guinea government is also willing to put A$20 million towards the bid and build a new stadium.
That alone shows desire and dedication.
The Kumuls were enthusiastic and physical against the Kangaroos, but ball control was a huge issue. Defence was obviously another point of concern. A big hit was often favoured when a better read was in order.
Was it entertaining? Yes.
Will it win football matches? No.
It is hard to judge the Kumuls on this performance. They will not be the last team to be flogged by the Kangaroos. A major concern, though, were the fundamental mistakes that were being made.
The most important thing is that team Papua New Guinea, on their eventual arrival into the NRL, are not treated like also-rans and easy-beats.
Lets assume that the majority of the Papua New Guinea players who ply their trade in the English Super League will return home. The best players from the local SP Cup will also get a run. So that means it is virtually a Papua New Guinea national team playing in the NRL.
Do we also then assume that the skill level will be the same as we saw on the weekend and will that be good enough to cut it against a club side?
The point has been made that any Papua New Guinea entrant would need two seasons in the Queensland Cup to prepare. This would get the playing group ready for the week-in and week-out grind of professional rugby league. That should go some way to weeding out the many drop balls and missed tackles.
Another question that needs to be considered is whether players from other countries would be allowed to play for them.
There is not too much difference between a team from Papua New Guinea playing in the NRL and the New Zealand Warriors.
The Warriors are made up mostly of New Zealand born players, but have benefited over the years from having an Australian import on their books.
In the case of the Kumuls, would they also be better off having a few internationals on the roster? Or would the team be better served concentrating on it’s own backyard and promoting young Papua New Guinean stars?
Would it send the wrong message to a rugby league mad nation if a consistent squad player from an Australian club took the place of a promising youngster from Papua New Guinea?
All of these are things to be considered and indeed resolved before expansion is given the green light.
Lucky we have an independent commission on the way! – The Roar