ENGLAND boss Steve McNamara has welcomed the appointment of his close friend, Stanley Gene, as PNG Kumuls new coach for the Four Nations series.
The 37-year-old former Hull KR favourite had stepped in to fill the void created by the surprise resignation of Adrian Lam, the former Wigan scrum half who told the Kumuls he wanted to concentrate on his club, St George Illawarra’s commitment.
“I am really pleased for him,” McNamara, who will come up against his old Huddersfield teammate when England play PNG in Auckland on Nov 6, said.
“Obviously, he had an outstanding career in the English competition but his status in Papua New Guinea is legendary and I am sure his input into the national team will be very positive.”
Gene, who played in the last three World Cups for the Kumuls in 1995, 2000 and 2008, had virtually no coaching experience and only five weeks to prepare his side for their opening Four Nations clash with Australia in Sydney.
However, McNamara, who coached Gene at Bradford and still lives close to him in Hull, believes it was a good appointment.
“It came out of the blue, this close to the competition, and he only has a short period of time to get everything ready but that happens,” he said.
“He is only just finishing his playing career but he has been under some top coaches in his time and he will definiely have the respect of the players.”
Gene’s appointment was announced at a media conference in Port Moresby, where PNG Rugby Football League interim committee chairman John Numapo insisted Lam’s reasons for resigning had nothing to do with the recent leadership turmoil.
Gene said: “I have spent 20 years playing league and this has been one of my dreams to coach my country. It could not have come any sooner.
“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.”
Gene’s first task will be to select a PNG Prime Ministers XIII side to play their Australian counterparts in Port Moresby next Sunday.