By ZACHERY PER
Lahanis fans in Goroka yesterday called for the immediate reinstatement of the sacked coach Peter Danga and 12 senior players.
Supporters of the province’s bemobile Cup team reacted with shock and disappointment at the news of the sackings and asked the board to justify its actions.
“We were caught by surprise when we learnt from the media that the players who served the franchise very well to maintain the pride of Eastern Highlands province were all removed from the team for this year’s bemobile Cup competition,” staunch Lahanis supporter David Bre said.
He said he was speaking on behalf of some supporters who expressed disbelief over the sacking and who now fear the team would perform poorly in this year’s Cup race.
“I call on franchise owners, the Sia brothers, John and Simon Sia, to immediately remove deputy Lahanis board chairman Himony Lapiso as we believe he, for some reason, orchestrated the sackings,” Bre alleged.
He said rugby league is a technical and tactical body contact game and to have a completely new team would mean that the 2010 Lahanis would start from ground zero to build a competitive franchise.
Bre said they wanted Lapiso to go and all the sacked players to be immediately reinstated along with coach Danga.
“The players are not contracted professionals playing for big salaries like players in the Australian NRL, they are proud Eastern Highlands flag carriers,” he said.
Another Lahanis supporter, Chris Aitamo, supported the call for the immediate reinstatement of the players and the coach, saying that preparations by the other franchise teams are at an advanced stage.
He said the sackings would have an adverse effect on the franchise’s bemobile Cup preparations and would dampen team morale.
Seventy per cent of senior Lahanis received separate letters dated Jan 18, signed by Lahanis board chairman John Sia and deputy chairman Himony Lapiso last weekend.
The sacked players are current Kumul secondrower Sigfred Gande, former Kumuls Garnet Auwo, Alphonse Kapil and Bafinuc Ilai, utility Casey Frank, Douglas Uyassi, Wesley Wiseman, Thompson Tete, halfback Walter Hasu, Abraham Irai and Wayne Waregiso.
The notice directly advised the sacked players that they were formally released to play with other franchise teams.