Muruks drama plays out

Normal, Sports

The National,Wednesday 17th April, 2013

 THE call by Petroleum Resources Kutubu (PRK) Mendi Muruks management for six of its players, who apparently went missing last week, to explain their actions has been  addressed by major sponsor Southern Highlands Provincial Government (SHPG). 

The six players – Roy Kela (centre), Matthew Puke (left), Wer Mark (right), Jackson Un­di, Kewa Kili and Wesser Tenza – failed to travel with the team when it transited through Port Moresby on its way to Kokopo last week for the Digicel Cup opener. Kela and Puke are in contention for World Cup spots having played for the Residents XIII earlier this year.

According to a press release by Mendi Muruks media officer Chris Saddlier, the six had all assured coach Julian O’Neill they would travel to Kokopo after arriving from Mendi last Saturday.   

Saddlier claimed that an unnamed team official then influenced the six to stay behind.

But these claims have been denied by a representative of the SHPG who said the six met with Governor William Powi in Port Moresby this week and will be travelling back to Mendi to join the team.

The source futher stated that Saddlier was not the authorised media official of the club and that any releases to the public needed approval from the SHPG and other stakeholders.

“Chris Saddlier is not authorised to release media statements concerning Muruks. Any announcements must be approved by the major sponsors first,” the source stated.

“The governor is disappointed about the reports in the media and we want to make it clear there are no issues.”

He did not explain why the six players missed the flight to Kokopo but confirmed they had met with Powi and had presumably settled their greviances. 

However Saddlier says it was not because of a player contract dispute as claimed in the other daily.

“No one has been promised contracts at this stage,” Saddlier said.

“Over the past three years (under former sponsor Structural Bridging Systems Ltd) the club has housed, fed and paid match payments to players on a game to game basis,” he said.  

“No contracts have ever been issued nor promised.”

Saddlier claimed the official had also an undisclosed amount of sponsorship money in his possession at the time and asked what had happened to these funds meant for the team.

Saddlier said that despite the huge setback 24 hours before the game against the Rabaul Gurias, the Muruks showed courage and team spirit to keep the score (36-12) respectable despite its inevitability.  

The Muruks gathered young rookies from Port Moresby and Rabaul to fill in for the unavailable players.

“These players wore the colours proudly. They fought hard against the home team boasting seven Kumuls and gave flashes of brilliance throughout the match.”  

 Saddlier said the final result for the Muruks was not really about the scoreboard.  

“The result could be seen on the faces of the coach and the sponsors who knew that they had a group of players with a good attitude and enthusiasm to play for the province.”

The players’ welfare and the club image is a top priority.  Policies are being developed to ensure the players understand their obligation and commitment both on and off the field.  

“There will be zero tolerance for players who think they are bigger than the game or the club.”