FORMER Kumul star Richard Wagambie was allegedly assaulted by a current Kumul player during a function hosted by their sponsor, Telikom, on Sunday.
The Kumuls team management is desperately trying to keep the incident under wraps, fearing the fallout would jeopardise their preparations for the Pacific Cup tournament which starts this weekend. They even had the player concerned shake hands with and apologise to Wagambie yesterday.
The alleged assault flies in the face of a strong campaign by the National Rugby League (NRL) and the international rugby league governing body to rid the game of violence, both on and off the field.
The recent one-off game between the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII and the PNG PM’s XIII was held under the “stop violence against referees” banner.
Wagambie is a former Kumul star and a respected coach. He was allegedly assaulted at Lancron Naval Base during a function on Sunday night.
Wagambie confirmed the incident, saying he had just finished delivering a motivational speech to members of the PNG Kumuls and supporters when the player came up and assaulted him.The player had apparently attended the function already intoxicated.
Wagambie said he initially considered laying a complaint with police, but decided against it.
“As a former player, I withdrew the charges against the player, to let him concentrate on the SP Pacific Cup with his Kumuls teammates,” he said.
Kumul coach Adrian Lam deflected questions about this when asked on Monday, during a conference to announce John Wilshere as PNG Kumul captain. Lam said he would rather comment on the preparation of the team.
Chairman of the selectors Krewanty asked a reporter from The National not to report the incident, describing it as “just a minor issue” which was solved internally by the board and management of the team.
He said Wagambie was called in yesterday and the player concerned apologised to Wagambie.
Attempts to contact Coach Lam yesterday were unsuccessful, but team physio Mathew Natusch said it was a controversial issue, and publishing a negative story would adversely affect the team’s preparations for the SP Pacific Cup challenge.